Skip to main content

Full text of "Theodore Lyman (1833-1897) and Robert Charles Winthrop, jr. (1834-1905)"

See other formats

E 664 
.L98 n2 
Copy 1 
















The following Memoirs, prepared for the Massachu- 
setts Historical Society, ajjpear in the printed volumes 
of the Proceedings of that Society, Second Series, Vol. 
XX., pp. 147-200. For convenience of reference, both 
the running titles and the pagination of the Society's 
publication have been preserved in this reprint. 






From the records of the Proceedings of the Society for the 
November meeting of 1869 it appears that " Mr. Theodore 
Lyman, of Brookline, was elected a Resident Member." His 
death was announced at the October meeting, 1897. His 
membership in the Society hicked two months only of cover- 
ing the full period of twenty-eight years. In order of seniority 
his name at his death stood fourteenth on our resident mem- 
bership roll. 

Born in the family mansion on the well-known Lyman estate 
in Waltham, Massachusetts, on the 23d of August, 1833, re- 
siding nearly all his life in the house on the beautiful Brook- 
line property inherited by him from his father. Colonel Lyman 
died at Nahant on the 9th of September, 1897. The father, 
after whom the son was named, had also been a member of the 
Society ; but, elected in April, 1828, he resigned in May, 1836. 
Of English stock, the Lymans were transplanted to New Eng- 
land in early colonial days ; for the first Lyman, Richard by 
name, was one of those, about threescore in number, who came 
out in the ship " Lyon " in company with Margaret, wife of Gov- 
ernor John Winthrop, and her children, and also "the Apostle" 
Eliot. Some sixty years later the Rev. Cotton Mather quaintly 
wrote of John Eliot, — " He came to Neio England in the 
month of November^ A. D. 1631, among those blessed old Plant- 
ers, which laid the Foundations of a remarkable Country, 
devoted unto the Exercise of the Protestant Religion, in its 
purest and highest Reformation." This Cotton Mather might 
equally well have written of John Eliot's fellow emigrant, 
Richard Lyman ; for, among the divines subsequently preach- 


ino- this " purest and highest Reformation " was Isaac Lyman, 
a descendant of Richard in the fourth generation. A graduate 
of Yale (1747), Isaac Lyman was in due time ordained pastor of 
the church at Old York in what was then, and for over seventy 
years afterwards, denominated the District of Maine ; but in 
the latter part of the eighteenth century his son, the first of 
four Theodores, moved to the Massachusetts Bay. Subse- 
quently a successful man of business, he laid the foundations 
of the family fortunes. The second Theodore (1792-1849), 
born in Boston, and graduated at Harvard (1810), studied 
two years at Edinburgh, and later travelled somewhat 
in eastern Europe, then an unusual experience for an Amer- 
ican. A man of considerable note in the community in 
which he lived, active politically and a consistent Federalist, 
General Lyman, as he was called because of the rank he had 
held in the Massachusetts militia, was also the author of 
several books not without reputation at the time, though 
now forgotten. For two years (1834-1835) he was Mayor 
of Boston ; in which capacity he is chiefly remembered in con- 
nection with the so-called Garrison mob of October 21, 1835. 
Previous to that, however, he had, in 1828, been defendant in 
a suit for criminal libel brought by Daniel Webster, then 
recently elected to the United States Senate from Massa- 
chusetts. When revived in the cold perspective of history 
the humorous aspect of this somewhat cumbrous legal pro- 
ceeding distinctly predominates ; but, at the time, it excited 
no little public interest. Involving great names, it was, 
in point of fact, a veritable teapot tempest, in the prog- 
ress of which a mere mole-hill was, for the time being, made 
to assume a truly mountainous aspect. The incident, curi- 
ously illustrative of the conditions and temper of the time, has 
recently been made the subject of an exceptionally entertain- 
ing historical monograph.^ It had its origin in certain alle- 
gations contained in an article written by General Lyman, 
and published in the Boston " Jackson Republican," a paper 
of winch he was one of the proprietors. Though a warm par- 
tisan in politics, General Lyman, besides being most public- 
spirited, was essentially a man of character and refinement. 
It is needless, therefore, to say that the libel suit in question, 

1 A Notable Libel Suit. By Josiah H. Benton, Jr. Boston : 1904. Trivately 


however "criminal" in name and form, was instituted for 
political I'easons, and brought no personal discredit on the 
defendant. He had merely in a controversial newspaper article 
used rather strong language, and been somewhat careless in his 
statements touching persons. The humor of the thing, how- 
ever, lay in the fact that the shaft, in itself neither particu- 
larly barbed nor sped with especial vigor, was aimed at J. Q. 
Adams ; but, in this case also, " the damned arrow glanced 
aside," and not only hit Mr. Webster, with whom General 
Lyman naturally and warmly affiliated, but pierced what 
at that particular juncture was with the " Defender of the 
Constitution " a very vulnerable and sensitive part. None the 
less the sum total of General Lyman's offence was nothing 
worse than extreme partisanship working, through historical 
inadvertence, to quite unanticipated results. Both the crim- 
inal libel suit and the Garrison mob were, however, mere inci- 
dents in the life of one closely identified both as originator and 
benefactor with some of our most valuable reformatory insti- 
tutions ; and in that connection the second Theodore Lyman 
still stands high in the estimation of the community of which 
in his day he was in no small degree typical. ^ 

About 1820 General Lyman married Miss Mary Henderson 
of New York, long afterwards referred to by one who knew 
the Lymans well as " a lady of rare personal beauty and ac- 
complishments." Three daughters and a son were the issue 
of the marriage ; one daughter and the son alone survived the 
parents. Mrs. Lyman died (August 5, 1836) thirteen years 
before her husband, whose death took place July 17, 1849, 
when the third Theodore, the subject of this memoir, was 
just completing his sixteenth year. Left to himself thus 
early with what was in those days considered an ample for- 
tune, two years later (1851) young Lyman entered Harvard, 

1 There is an appreciative sketcli of tlie second Theodore Lyman by L. M. 
Sargent in paper number fifty-six of his book entitled Dealings witli the Dead 
(vol. i. pp. 202-206). Considering the standard of private fortunes of that period 
the benefactions of General Lyman were astonishingly liberal. Besides numerous 
unobtrusive gifts and charities during his life, he had from time to time privately 
given §22,000 to the Reform School at Westborough. By testamentary bequests 
he left an additional sum of $50,000 to tliat institution, and $10,000 each to the 
Horticultural Society and the Thompson Island Farm School. Mr. Sargent says 
of him: "Frigid, and even formal, before the world, he was one of the most 
warm-hearted of men, among the noiseless paths of charity, and in the closer 
relations of life." 


graduating in 1855. It was in many ways a somewhat 
noteworthy class, that of 1855, — among others in having 
two first scholars, Francis Channing Barlow and Robert Treat 
Paine. It was a curious coincidence. Entering college to- 
gether and being graduated from it together, as the result of 
four years of marking under the system then in vogue. Bar- 
low and Paine — two men curiously dissimilar in character 
as in subsequent careers — came out exactly even. Aggre- 
gating between 25,000 and 26,000 marks given by different 
instructors in diverging and converging courses, the columns 
in the two cases did not differ in result by a single unit ; nor 
could the arithmetical insight of Professor Benjamin Peirce, 
when applied to the problem, anywhere detect a miscalcula- 
tion or reveal an oversight. So the class of 1855 had the 
unique distinction of graduating two first scholars, and no 
second. Among its members, besides Theodore Lyman, were 
Alexander Agassiz, General F. C. Barlow, already mentioned 
as one of its two first scholars, Phillips Brooks, Edward Barry 
Dalton, James Kendall Hosmer, James Tyndale Mitchell, and 
F. B. Sanborn. The names of five of the class are found on the 
roll of membership of this Society. 

The college record of the third Theodore Lyman was in a 
high degree creditable to him. With a good physique, a 
natural leadership among his equals and a pronounced love 
of sociability, the dangers and pitfalls in his case were con- 
siderable. By his father's death left to his own guidance, 
with abundant means at his disposal, the temptations to idle- 
ness and pleasure-seeking were great. During his first two 
years of college life he seemed disposed to yield to them, giv- 
ing his time to amusements rather than to efforts at class 
rank ; but, subsequently, he combined the two activities. In- 
deed, he and his classmate and intimate friend, Langdon 
Erving, next above him in rank at graduation, were notable 
in the Harvard undergraduate world of that period for the 
degree of success with which this result was by them accom- 
plished. Under what influences Lyman fell in his Sophomore 
year was not at the time apparent, but the change was 
marked. Without in any way abandoning his amusements 
or restricting his inclination to sociability, his prominence in 
club life, in club theatricals, in rowing, or in society, he sud- 
denly went in for marks, and became a hard student. Always 


intellectually quick, the result was sometliing quite remark- 
able. He rose in rank by leaps and bounds. At the close 
of the Sophomore year thirty-eighth in a class numbering 
seventy-one, — not even in the first half, — at the close of the 
Junior year he was thirty-fourth in a class now of seventy- 
four. During his first term Senior his marks for that term 
were next to the highest; while, in the second, or closing, 
term of the college course he was first scholar. Finally, at 
graduation, the College Faculty arbitrarily assigned him 
fourth place in the class. It was a college record indicative 
of an exceptional man. 

When, in March, 1855, it came to the choice of class officials, 
Lyman was the favorite candidate for orator, in those days the 
most coveted of college prizes. His friends and the more 
prominent club organizations were united and earnest in his 
support. The class democracy, however, looked askance. 
Those composing it would have none of him. Accordingly, 
after a spirited canvass, he lost the much wished for honor 
by a narrow vote ; not, it had subsequently to be admitted, to 
the bettering of the class-day exercises. It was, doubtless, at 
the moment as great a disappointment as Lyman had ever been 
called upon to face ; but, bearing himself cheerfullj^ he took 
his defeat in manly fashion. Possibly a sympathizing faculty 
had the fact in mind when, shortly after, it came to announcing 
the scholarship rank, in his case to a degree assigned by vote. 

Theodore Lyman was, moreover, one of the few men of any 
time who have left at Harvard abiding traces quoad under- 
graduates. Early chosen into the Hasty Pudding Club, then as 
now the leading social and histrionic organization among the 
students, he was a conspicuous member thereof ; as also of 
the Porcellian Club, of which last, from 1860 to 1866, he 
acted as Grand Marshal. But it was in the Hasty Pudding 
that his attributes more peculiarly shone forth. Prominent 
as a performer in its theatricals, it was he who as chorister 
composed, in 1854, the classic song entitled " The First 
Proof of the Pudding," descriptive of the mystical origin 
of that ancient and goodly fraternity. When, forty years 
after graduation, Lyman was a helpless invalid at his Brook- 
line home, confronting the living death which day by day 
crept on him, the Hasty Pudding Club celebrated its cen- 
tennial (November 22, 1895). Of the two things in its history 


to which prominence was then given, one was a repetition of its 
first play, Bombastes Furioso, the other the singing of Lyman's 
still familiar choral song. As things collegiate go, forty years 
is a well-nigh unparalleled immortality.^ 

1 In view of tins fact it may be not inappropriate to reproduce this Harvard 
"classic." It is merely necessary in so doing to premise that the names of Mr. 
Sibley and Dr. Harris, introduced into tlie Lyman manuscript, were an unau- 
thorized appropriation. Both sedate officials of the University Library, the 
memory of Dr. Harris is not otherwise associated with mirth, music or lyrical 
composition, though, for many years, it was the recognized function of Mr. Sibley 
to set the tune at the commencement dinner. 

" The first proof of the Pudding ! " 
Words by Mr. Sibley. Song adapted to music by Dr. Harris. 
Air : "So Miss Myrtle is going to marry." 

Long since when our forefathers landed 

On barren rock bleak and forlorn 
There they left their little boat stranded 

To search tlirough the wide woods for corn. 
Soon some hillocks of earth met their gaze 

Like altars of mystical spell. 
But within tinding Indian maize / 

Amazement on all of them fell. ( ^'^ 

Quoth Standish : " Right hard have we toil-ed 

A dinner we'll have before long 
A pudding shall quickly be boil-ed 

By help of the Lord and the corn." — 
Tliat moment the war-whoop resounded 

Through forest, and mountain, and glen, 
And a Choctaw savagely bounded / 

To slaughter these corn-stealing men ! ) ^'^ 

" Oh vile pagan ! " The Captain said he : 

" 'T is true we 've been taking a horn 
But though corn-ed we all of us be 

We ne'er shall acknowledge the corn." — 
Then a wooden spoon held in his hand 

He seized his red foe by the nose, 
And with pudding his belly be crammed > 

In spite of his struggles and throes. i *'^ 

The victor triumphantly grasp-ed 

The hair of his foe closely shorn 
While the savage struggled and gasp-ed 

O'erpowered with fear and with corn, — 
" Be converted ! " the good Standish said ; 

" Or surely by fire you "11 die ; 
Though with ' boiled ' you thus far have been fed | _ 

We quickly shall give you a ' fry.' " ) °''^ 

Then straight was the Choctaw baptiz-ed 

In pudding pot, smoky and warm, 
While the parson him catechis-ed 

Concerning the cooking-of-corn. 



Graduating in July, 1855, on the 27tli of November, 1858, 
lie being then in his twenty-fourth year, young Lyman married 
Elizabeth Russell, oldest daughter of George R. Russell, of Rox- 
bury, Massachusetts. On the mother's side ^Nlrs. Russell was a 
Shaw, and it so chanced that Theodore Lyman's only surviving 
sister, Cora, had married a brother of Mrs. Russell. A double 
connection was thus brought about, and Theodore Lyman's 
sister became his aunt by marriage. But, what with Lymans, 
Russells, and Shaws, with whom were combined the Sturgises, 
the family connection was intricate, and, as regards numbers, 
bore a not remote resemblance to tlie sands of the shore. His 
marriage was the fortunate event in Theodore Lyman's life. 
He always so esteemed it. 

Alread}^ even before graduation, Lyman had come under 
the influence of Professor Louis Agassiz. Litellectually and 
morally, even more perhaps than scientifically, he became one 
of that teacher's disciples. As is well known, Agassiz was 
endowed with lemarkable personal magnetism ; he was, further- 
more, always instinctively on the lookout for young men to 
attach, not to himself personally, but to his pursuits. His 
attention seems early to have been drawn to Lyman as a 
promising subject, — a possible disciple; for Lyman combined 
in himself means, position, character, and ability. His whole 
life was thus influenced. And yet, as the result showed, it is 
questionable whether it was tlie voice of science which uttered 
for Lyman the clearest call. Those who knew him most 
intimately both at college and in subsequent life felt by no 
means sure, nor were they of one mind on that point. 

When, in the case of those we have known well, the out- 
come of life is settled, the temptation is strong to philosophize 
over what might have been had ideal conditions existed ; 
for few men are either by accident or choice placed or contrive 
to work themselves into exactly the position for which nature 
designed them. While nearly all men have aptitudes, such as 
they are, — that is, they incline to certain pursuits in which 
they can, or could, accomplish results more easily than in 

Then the Puritans chanted a psalm 

With cliorus of Iley-rub-a-dub, 
And amidst gentle music's soft charm, ( 
Was founded the Great Pudding Club. ( *'* 

Theodore Lyman 


others, — those who have distinctly pronounced aptitudes are 
comparatively speaking rare ; and yet more rare are those en- 
dowed with that one overpowering aptitude amounting to a 
call. With most men, the call, such as it is, not being clear 
and controlling, the wherewithal to support life and meet 
family requirements dictates vocation. But, in this respect, 
Theodore Lyman was one of the fortunate. Not forced to 
bread- winning toil, he could follow his aptitudes — if he had 
any ! The only question in his case was to know himself. 

That with his ability, application and alertness of intellect 
he would accomplish excellent results and attain a degree of 
distinction in any calling which he might adopt, all who knew 
him would be disposed to admit. That his greatest aptitude 
lay in the direction of science is not so clear. He certainly 
was not professorially built. Though quick of perception, it 
may also be questioned whether he was a thoughtful observer. 
He certainly was not a hermit, or a man of the laboratory. 
The late Clarence King, eminent as a geologist, as well as a bril- 
liant man socially, was wont to declare that the trouble with 
geology was that it could not strike back. In dealing with the 
rocks and strata the joy of conflict was lacking. It may well 
have been somewhat the same with Lyman. Ophiurans, for 
instance, may scientifically be interesting, but they indisputably 
lack the social quality; and Theodore Lyman's nature craved 
sociability. Indeed, in life, as in the Pudding Club, sociability 
was with him the source of the purest pleasures. As years 
went on, accordingly, the active human side of things more 
than once asserted its claims ; and it is very questionable 
whether his two years' experience in the army and afterwards 
his single term in Congress did not appeal to him more 
strongly and leave a more vivid recollection in his mind than 
the far longer period devoted to biological work. More even 
than law, science is a "jealous mistress." 

Thus, the trouble with Theodore Lyman probably was that, 
a many-sided man, the ambition that dominated was lacking ; 
and, among those who knew him best both at Harvard and 
afterwards, it was always an open question whether he would 
not have found the place in which he could exercise his powers 
with the best results both objectively and subjectively in the 
more active life. Had his attention been turned to political or 
social issues, and had he thus become interested in the excep- 


tionally absorbing problems of the period in which lie lived, 
he had noticeable power of literary expression, many of the ele- 
ments of leadership, and, above all, he would have thoroughly 
enjoyed the game. Both in the army and in Congress, he did 
so. Influenced, however, by Agassiz, he made his election 

For three years after graduation, the acolyte worked under 
the eye of the master and in personal touch with him ; and 
the impression Agassiz then made on him he recorded in 
a published paper nearly twenty years later, shortly after 
Agassiz had died (1873).^ He took his degree of S.B in 1858. 
In 1801 Harvard, in further recognition of his work, conferred 
on him tlie final degree of LL.D. 

Inheriting a strong sense of civic duty, from the time of 
graduation young Lyman interested himself in the reforma- 
tory institutions his father had originated and endowed, the 
most important of which still perpetuates his name. He went 
to this work also intelligently and in the true scientific spirit, 
taking nothing for granted, and quite refusing to acquiesce in 
existing conditions simply because they happened to exist and 
to disturb them would occasion inconvenience, and possibly 
cases of individual hardship. That all charitable, penal and 
reformatory as well as educational institutions have a strong 
tendency to work into ruts and formulas is matter of common 
observation ; whether, under such circumstances, they do not 
do more harm than good is an open question. Endowed by 
the benevolent, often with an intelligent forecast, or at least 
a half comprehension of facts and their bearing, their manage- 
ment is apt to fall into the hands of what are known as good, 
practical common-sense people, in whose behalf it is usually, 
and truly, claimed that they are not given to theories or apt 
to be carried away in pursuit of new-fangled ideas. When 
this occurs, the inevitable may confidently be expected. The 
institution has a strong tendency to become a retiring berth 
for incompetents; or may even nourish what it was designed 
to cure, whether pauperism or crime. This tendency to unin- 
telligent formalism had not failed to assert itself in the early 
experience of both the institutions with which the elder Theo- 
dore Lyman had concerned himself, the State Reform School, 
and the Boston Asylum and Farm School for Indigent Boys, 
1 Atlantic Monthly, vol. xxxiil. pp. 221-229. 


on Thompson's Island. Of both, the younger Theodore Lyman 
became a trustee shortly after graduation. Trouble soon en- 
sued. With the exception of Lyman, the trustees of the first 
named institution were removed, and he elected to go with his 
associates. A long and wearisome struggle followed, — exec- 
utive action, legislative investigation, remedial laws, bureau 
supervision. As the result of strenuous and persistent effort, in 
which Lyman bore his share, more correct methods of manage- 
ment, based on scientific principles, were gradually introduced. 
In the case of the Reform School those among the inmates 
who were vicious beyond hope of remedy were by degrees re- 
moved from contact with those whom it was possible to reform, 
and the school, which was becoming a forcing house of crime, be- 
came what its founders intended and its name implies. In this 
slow process of regeneration, which gradually assumed shape 
through the administrations of Governors Andrew and Bullock 
(1861-1868), Lyman's classmate, F. B. Sanborn, was largely 
concerned, as Secretary of the State Board of Charities. 
Much of the time Lyman was away, but he never lost his 
interest in the work of effecting a return to his father's original 
scheme. At last, but not until 1884, the Massachusetts Reform- 
atory was established at Concord for adults; the age limit at 
Westboro' was fixed at fifteen years, and provision was made 
for the transfer to Concord of boys who proved to be unfit sub- 
jects for the Reform School, which was by act of Legislature 
called ' The Lyman School for Boys,' A few years later, after 
the removal of the institution to a neighboring farm in the 
town of Westboro', Theodore Lyman went to the school for 
the dedication of the chapel, " and, as he watched the boys at 
their work and play, he expressed his satisfaction at the suc- 
cess of the trustees in having at last made it very nearly the 
kind of school that his father had wished and hoped that it 
might become." 

The Lymans went abroad in 1861, about the time of the out- 
break of the Civil War, and remained in Europe until the 
summer of 1863. Without paying much thoughtful attention 
to political issues or the principles involved in them, Theo- 
dore Lyman had grown up a conservative. His family was 
closely allied with those whom Charles Sumner was wont to 
refer to as Lords of the Loom, so contradistinguishing them 
from their allies, the Lords of the Lash. This highly rhetorical 



alliteration sounds absurd enough now ; but during Theodore 
Lyman's formative period — between the time he entered Har- 
vard and the time he went to Europe (1851-18G1) — it meant 
much. It made environment ; and, coming into his political 
ideas and affiliations in much the same way as he inherited his 
property, Theodore Lyman naturally became what was then 
denominated in Massachusetts a Webster Whig. Moreover, 
a disciple of Agassiz was not likely to be also a pronounced 
politician ; and it was improbable that a close student of the 
OphiuridtB and Astrophytidie would give any great amount of 
analytical thought to the constitutional issues arising over the 
status of the African, either as an escaped fugitive or subject to 
territorial legislation. Nevertheless, so far as he concerned 
himself in politics, and in those days every one more or less 
concerned himself, Lyman, in the great election of 1860, voted 
for Bell and Everett and not for Abraham Lincoln. Then, 
like every one else, he watched anxiously the gathering of the 
storm. When, in April, 1861, it at last broke, he felt no call 
to action. He had disapproved, and foretold ; what he pre- 
dicted had come to pass. He was married and deeply inter- 
ested in his scientific studies; so, not altering his plans, he 
and his wife went abroad. 

While Mr. and Mrs. Lyman were in Europe, their first child 
was born. This event, of course, afforded distraction ; but to 
Americans constituted as they were, Europe was, in 1861 and 
1862, neither an agreeable nor a restful place. A nightmare 
period, one thought predominated. Sleeping, waking — the 
terrific struggle going on at home was ever present to the 
mind. Research and study were out of the question ; the solu- 
tion of scientific problems must await a more opportune occa- 
sion. Nor in this respect was Theodore Lyman so constituted 
as to prove an exception. His was not one of those coldly 
scientific minds, self-centred and absorbed, which can look 
out upon the world in a purely objective way. Essentially 
human, social and companionable, he sympathized and felt. 
His relations, his classmates, his intimate friends, moreover, 
had thronged into the army and were in the thick of the 
fight. He was in Europe, — idling! Every mail brought 
letters from home or from the front, replete with one subject. 
Long lists of casualties came, in which were many familiar 
names, — some that were dear. His wife's brother was a 


prisoner in Richmond ; the regiment to which he belonged 
had been far more than decimated in battle. With Theodore 
Lyman also military operations had always possessed a certain 
interest, — an interest probably traceable to his father's con- 
nection with the Massachusetts militia, and the effective organ- 
izing work he there did as commander of the Suffolk brigade. 
Thus to both Mr. and Mrs. Lyman the situation became by 
degrees fairly intolerable. They must at least go home. They 
were back in Brookline in June, 1863. Early in the following 
month the battle of Gettysburg was fought. 

By a curious coincidence that battle, and its outcome, 
greatly influenced Lyman's individual conduct and subsequent 
interests through life. Seven years before, in the winter of 
1856, he had made a visit to the Florida waters on one of 
Agassiz's errands of scientific research. He there, at Key 
West, fell in with Captain George G. Meade, of the topo- 
graphical engineers, then superintending the erection of light- 
houses on the Florida reefs. In those days the Florida coast 
afforded few accommodations for temporary sojourners, whether 
for cause of health or of science, and Captain Meade had a gov- 
ernment vessel at his disposal. He was eighteen years Ly- 
man's senior, but only too glad to welcome him as a companion 
and messmate. They proved congenial ; and an intimacy 
followed, which was subsequently maintained. And now, 
from Captain of Engineers in 1861, becoming, in 1863, Major- 
General in command of the Army of the Potomac, Meade's 
name was in every one's mouth. Just the opportunity he 
desired was thus by mere chance opened to Lyman. Meade 
suggested to him by letter that he should join the head- 
quarters. The Agassiz Museum now ceased to interest, and 
the door of the laboratory was closed ; the pencil was laid 
down. The call of science had for some time sounded fainter 
and fainter amid the tumult of the mighty struggle then going 
on, and in which the pupil of Agassiz was eager to take a 

In the course Lyman now took he showed, also, an excep- 
tional wisdom, an intelligent insight. He did not, like so 
many others, — his relatives and friends, — rush at once into 
a profession for which he had in no way been prepared; 
on the contrary, he gave a certain amount of consideration to 
what he wanted to see and know, and what he was qualified 


to do. That an army is not a more or less organized mol), or 
a campaign a picnic, or a battle an elaborated row and free 
fight, would seem, as propositions, to be elementary ; but in 
the earlier stages of the Civil War they had not obtained a 
complete acceptance. To be in the thick of the thing was 
the prevalent wish, without any very clear comprehension 
of what " the thing " was, or how one's presence there could 
be made to contribute in greatest degree to the result desired. 
Much excellent material was thus wasted. 

Viewed retrospectively in the light of what has since, in 
four continents, occurred, it is for those concerned in it mat- 
ter of wonderment how, on either side, we contrived to work 
our way through that terrific struggle with so little compre- 
hension of the supremely important function of the general 
staff in all considerable military operations. Though we are 
essentially an organizing people, and though the exigency was 
great, to the very end of the Civil War the ideas entertained 
of staff duty were the vaguest possible. It was not realized 
that the staif is to the army what his brain is to a man. 
Commenting on the condition of affairs in this respect even 
in the final stages of the struggle, a verj- competent critic says 
of Grant's headquarters equipment, when the great and com- 
plicated campaign of 186-1: opened, " the organization and 
arrangements made by him for the control and co-operation 
of the forces in Virginia are now generally regarded by mili- 
tary critics as having been nearl}^ as faulty as they could have 
been. ... It was in the nature of things impossible to make 
either the armies or the separate army-corps work harmoni- 
ously and effectively together. . . . But when it is considered 
that Grant's own staff, althougli presided over by a very able 
man from civil life, and containing a number of zealous and 
experienced officers from both the regular army and the vol- 
unteers, was not organized for the arrangement of the multi- 
farious details and combinations of the marches and battles of 
a great campaign, and indeed under Grant's special instruc- 
tions made no efforts to arrange them, it will be apparent that 
properly co-ordinated movements could not be counted upon.''^ 
Every deficiency here pointed out meant the unnecessary loss 
of precious lives. In the operations which ensued, a system- 
atic butting against breastworks was substituted for the clock- 
1 2 Proceedings, vol. xix. p. 344 n. 


like movement of carefully calculated combinations. It was 
typical of the whole conflict. 

Indeed, at the commencement of the struggle, and in the 
earlier stages of it, the function of the staff was so wholly mis- 
conceived that among the young men, especially those educated 
at Harvard, the idea was generally entertained that the only 
place for really useful service was in the company, the squad- 
ron, and the regiment. A staff appointment was looked upon 
as merely one of show. The line meant work and danger ; the 
headquarters were synonymous with idleness, safety, and dis- 
play. Practically, and from an utter failure to grasp the scope 
and significance of staff functions and responsibility, there was 
altogether too much of truth and reality in this idea. The 
Civil War staffs throughout were largely ornamental. Yet 
the idea that they were so in the nature of things — neces- 
sarily so — was a delusion than which it is difficult to con- 
ceive any more false and unfortunate. An unquestioning 
acceptance of its truth caused the waste or misapplication of 
much valuable material. A great many round pegs inserted 
themselves or were thrust into square holes. 

Not that the Harvard men, of whom Theodore Lyman was 
a good type, did not do excellent service as regimental officers. 
They did ; and, as such, in altogether too many cases they 
laid down their lives. But, as compared with the staff, the 
sphere of usefulness of a regimental officer is confined; and 
as for his knowledge of men and operations, it is limited 
to his brigade and its movements in camp and campaign, and 
in action to what is taking place at his side or in his imme- 
diate front. He is a pawn on a wide and complicated chess- 
board. Moreover, the previous training of the typical Harvard 
man specially qualified him for efficient work on the staff. He 
had but to familiarize himself with its duties. 

In all these respects Theodore Lyman seems to have in- 
stinctively taken in the situation. Whether he did or no, the 
course he pursued was at that stage of the struggle the wisest 
possible course open to him. Regimental commissions, ex- 
cept of the lowest grades, were after 1862 not easy to obtain. 
Promotions were jealously watched ; and, in their bestowal, 
experience had begun to count. Lyman could not, placed as 
he was, enter the service as a subaltern ; he wanted also to 
come in contact with men high in rank, and to study large 


movements. After some correspondence with General Meade 
the matter was arranged most satisfactorily and in an ingeni- 
ous way. He was commissioned as a volunteer member of 
the staff of "Governor Andrew, with the rank of Lieutenant 
Colonel, and was, at General Meade's invitation, assigned 
to special duty at the Headquarters of the Army of the Poto- 
mac. Pie never was mustered into the service of the United 
States; he drew no pay or allowances; he was simply the 
headquarters guest and personal aide of General Meade. The 
position was anomalous ; the use he could make of it de- 
pended wholly on him who held it. Lieutenant-Colonel Lyman 
not only made himself generally acceptable, but he was effec- 
tively useful ; and, moreover, he had a range of observation 
and largeness of acquaintance of which he did not fail to 
avail himself. His experience was thus more interesting than 
fell to any one of his friends who took part in the war. Less 
brilliant, it was unique. Unquestionably that experience con- 
stituted the most interesting feature of his active life, and tlie 
portion of it upon which he subsequently looked back with 
greatest satisfaction. 

And yet in one respect it was to be regretted that his 
position with the army was anomalous and did not admit of 
that enlargement which follows promotion; for it is, and must 
always remain, fairly matter of question whether Theodore 
Lyman might not, after all, have found in a military envi- 
ronment the largest field for the development of his peculiar 
aptitudes. To those who had an opportunity there to observe 
him, it would hardly occur that he was specially adapted to 
large immediate command of men or to carry on complicated 
field operations ; but he did possess in high degree many of 
the qualifications which go to make up an accomplished mem- 
ber of the staff. He would have made an admirable Inspector 
General ; and, as such, have exercised a direct and most bene- 
ficial influence, not on a battalion or a brigade, but on the 
army as a whole. It was, perhaps, quite as unfortunate for 
the service as for him that his qualities could not be, or at 
any rate were not, utilized more effectively and on a larger 

Even so, however, it remains to be seen whether Colonel 
Lyman, as a witness on the inside, will not yet prove an im- 
portant historical factor in the ultimate verdict on the great 



Grant-Lee campaign of 1864; for the true liistor}^ of that 
terrible struggle is yet to be written. As already intimated, 
the instructive lesson to be drawn from it is the importance 
of the general staff in all great operations of modern warfare. 
Of this in 1864 General Grant seems to have had no adequate 
comprehension.^ He was commander-in-chief of all the Union 
armies ; but the Union armies had no general staff in any 
proper acceptation of the term. General J. A. Rawlins was, 
nominally, Grant's chief-of-staff ; and, though from civil life 
and a self-educated lawyer by profession, Rawlins was a clear- 
headed, virile man. But his chief-of-staff in the campaign 
of 1861 should have been to Grant what Gneisenau was to 
Bliicher in 1815, or what Moltke was to the Emperor William 
in 1870, This, however, is what a recent critic, himself a 
West Point graduate and a general oflScer in close touch with 
Grant's headquarters during the campaign of 1861, has re- 
cently written: — 

" Rawlins was from the first bitterly opposed to the persistency with 
which the army was hurled in direct attack against the enemy's hastily 
constructed but formidable entrenchments as at Spottsylvania Court 
House and at Cold Harbor, He did not hesitate to say that the 
repetition of the first fatal blunder was due to the influence of one of 

1 Tliere is an extremely interesting letter bearing on this characteristic of 
General Grant, from Charles A. Dana to Secretary Stanton, dated July 13, 
18!)3, and written from Grant's headquarters at Vicksburg. Mr. Dana through- 
out that campaign was with General Grant as the special representative of the 
War Department, in immediate communication with the Secretary. He had 
tlioroughly familiarized himself with the situation, and those in command. He 
thus wrote in the letter referred to: — "Indeed, in all my observation, I have 
never discovered the use of Grant's aides-de-camp at all. On the battlefield lie 
sometimes sends orders by them but everywhere else they are idle loafers. I 
suppose the army would be better off if they were all suppressed, especially the 
colonels. ... If General Grant had about him a staff of thoroughly competent 
men, disciplinarians and workers, the efficiency and fighting quality of his army 
would soon be much increased. As it is, things go too much by hazard and by 
spasms ; or, when the pinch comes, Grant forces through, by his own energy and 
main strength, what proper organization and proper staff officers would have 
done already. ... In the staffs of the division and brigadier generals I do- not 
now recall any officer of extraordinary capacity. Tiiere may be such, but I 
have not made their acquaintance. On the other hand, I have made the ac- 
quaintance of some who seemed quite unfit for their places." 

In this same most interesting communication Mr. Dana thus referred to 
General Sherman, then in command of one corps of Grant's army: — "On the 
whole, General Sherman has a very small and very efficient staff; but the 
efficiency comes mainly from him. What a splendid soldier he is." Recollections 
of the Civil War, pp. 74-77. 



the regular officers [at headquarters] whose refrain was ' Smash 'em up — 
smash 'em 'up ! ' With the same fearlessness that characterized the 
imprudent utterances of ' Baldy ' Smith and of that peerless soldier 
Emory Upton, Rawlins did not hesitate in conversation with me to 
designate this as ' the murderous policy of military incompetents,' and 
there is the best reason for believing that his remonstrances with his 
Chief, emphasized as they were by the uniform failure and the fearful 
losses attendant upon such attacks, had more to do with causing their 
abandonment than anything else ; except perhaps the pathetic protest 
of men in the ranks at Cold Harbor, who, before advancing to the 
charge, pinned their names to their clothes in order that their dead 
bodies might be recognized after the battle was over." ^ 

The historic truth is that though General Grant was a man 
of strong horse-sense and military instincts, as well as a most 
formidable fighter, he did not have a high-grade organizing 
mind. Confronted with Lee, this deficiency became apparent, 
expressed in simply terrible results so far as the armies under 
Grant's more immediate command were concerned ; for, un- 
fortunately, those who incited to that succession of frontal 
attacks, as murderous as they were futile, were not detailed 
to lead them. Had such a rule been in vogue, it is needless 
to say the lives of many thousands would have been spared to 
them. As it was, the Virginia campaign of 1864 was tacti- 
cally discreditable and, in its methods, brutal. 

Of all of this Colonel Lyman was a close witness, at once in- 
telligent and observant. Realizing fully the importance of the 
events, he made of what he heard and saw a careful record. 
Naturally, at the headquarters of General Meade some jealousy 
existed of the neighboring headquarters of General Grant. It 
could not have been otherwise. An accomplished soldier. 
General Meade was irritable, and, among his intimates, out- 
spoken. His chief-of-staff, General A. A. Humphreys, was one 
of the best officers as well as determined and skilful fighters 
in the army. A trained soldier, clear-headed and reticent, the 
personal relations between him and Colonel Lyman soon be- 
came close.2 The aide of Governor Andrew was thus in the 

1 Manuscript Life of General Rawlins, by General James H. Wilson, 
Chap. xii. 

2 In his account of the operations of this campaign, published in 1883, 
General Humphreys says, — "Colonel Tl)eodore Lyman, an accomplished gentle- 
man from Boston, a volunteer aide on the staCE of General Meade from the 
summer of 1863 to the close of the war, serving without pay or allowances, 


innermost councils of the Army of the Potomac. The repeated 
slaughters took place under his eyes, and at the moment he 
wrote down his impressions. He was very competent so to 
do. The time to make public what he thus recorded may not 
yet have come ; but that his evidence will affect the ultimate 
verdict on the great campaigns of which he was a witness, 
those who saw him there can hardly entertain a doubt. 

In his sketch of Colonel Lyman's career prepared for 
the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Henry P. 
Bowditch says : — 

"In this capacity [that of volunteer aide of Governor Andrew as- 
signed to duty at the headquarters of General Meade] Colonel Lyman 
served till the end of the Civil War, taking part in the battles of the 
Wilderness, Spottsylvania Court House, and Cold Harbor, in the move- 
ments around Petersburg and in the final surrender at Appomattox 
Court House, where he was one of the few officers privileged to ride 
through the Confederate lines after the surrender. Duriu^ all this 
period he showed an active and intelligent interest in his new work by 
making almost daily sketches showing the positions of the different 
corps of the Army of the Potomac. Mr. John C. Ropes, President of 
the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts, writes that he ' was 
so much impressed with the value of these cartographic statements of the 
movements of the Army of the Potomac, from the autumn of 1863 down 
to and including the 9th of April, 1865, when Lee surrendered,' that he 
bad them all copied for the use of the Society. The same high authority 
in military matters speaks also of having seen extracts from a diary 
kept by Theodore Lyman during this period, ' which are as humorous 
and as entertaining as any pictures of the carap and march can pos- 
sibly be.' It is greatly to be hoped that this diary may in due time 
be edited and published, as it cannot fail to be a valuable contribution 
to our knowledge of the Civil War. Few actors in this great drama 
had better opportunities of watching the succession of important his- 
torical events, or minds better qualified for observing, recording, and 
commenting upon them. Nor did his interest in military matters cease 
with the war, for, as a member of the Military Historical Society of 
Massachusetts, he had ample opportunity to discuss with his companions 

passed the 5tli and 6th of May with General Hancock, sending constantly brief 
notes with small diagrams to General Meade, showing the progress of the 
operations and giving the latest information. It was General Meade's habit to 
intrust tiiis service to Colonel Lyman, sending him to tlie different corps com- 
manders. These little despatches are on file in tlie War Department and furnish 
valuable information." The Virginia Campaiqn of 1864 and 1865, p. 48, n. An- 
other reference to Colonel Lyman is to be found in a footnote to page 55 of 
the same volume. 


in arms the great events in which they had all taken part. On June 
11, 1877, he read a 'Review of the Reports of Colonel Haven and 
General Weld on the conduct of General McClellau at Alexandria^ in 
August, 1862, and on the case of Fitz John Porter.' 

"Lyman maintained a close and unbroken friendship with General 
Meade until the death of the latter, in 1872. lie then wrote an obitu- 
ary notice of his old commander, which was published in Volume IX. 
of the Proceedings of this Academy." 

This spirited war episode was violently projected, as it were, 
into the far different career Theodore Lyman had mapped out 
for himself at graduation. Coming back to Boston and Brook- 
line when the episode closed, he, like so many others engaged 
in that struggle, resumed his old activities. His association 
with Harvard, always close, became closer still. Throughout 
the war, and until 1866, Grand Marshal of the Porcellian 
Club, he was also a liberal subscriber to the Memorial Hall 
fund, and took active interest in it as a member of the build- 
ing committee. By virtue of an act passed in 1865, the 
members of the Board of Overseers of the college were 
thenceforth elected by the alumni; and, in 1868, Lyman was 
chosen. His cousin and intimate personal friend from child- 
hood, Charles W. Eliot, was chosen at the same time ; but the 
name of the latter was shortly after submitted to the Board 
by the Corporation for confirmation as President of the Uni- 
versity. Lyman contributed efficiently towards securing favor- 
able action on the nomination. His assistance, too, was needed ; 
for, strange as it now seems in view of what has since oc- 
curred, the choice of President Eliot was at the time by no 
means unopposed.^ It constituted in fact a new departure 
for the University, entered upon with hesitation and, at the 
time, viewed in many and influential quarters with grave dis- 
trust. The nomination was ventured upon by the Corpora- 
tion only as a last resort, and in a spirit close approaching 
desperation, — the result of an instinctive conviction, slowly 
and reluctantly reached, that the old order of things was 
gone, — a radical organic change had come about in the com- 
munity and body politic. To it the University must respond. 
Yet before Mr. Eliot was named, the position had been offered 
to at least one eminent gentleman more clearly in the line of 

1 The final vote in the Board of Overseers was sixteen ayes and eight noes. 


established and therefore safe precedent; and declined most 
wisely. Thus no nomination at all similar had ever been sent 
down by the Corporation to startle the Overseers except that 
of Josiah Quincy, made close upon forty years before and 
with five administrations intervening ; and in the case of Mr. 
Quincy not only was he a man mature in years, — then fift}'- 
seven, — but he had long been prominent in public life. Nor 
in his case also did the selection command immediate general 
approval ; for, creating a new precedent of questionable char- 
acter, the clergy looked askance at it, and voted accordingly. 
Moreover, Mr. Quincy himself at the time remarked on the 
unusual character of the proceeding : — "I would not," he 
said, " have been any more astonished had they come and 
asked me to preach in the Old South pulpit ! " And now 
that instruction was bettered. A young scientific instructor, 
of more than questionable theological orthodoxy, a professed 
believer in Darwinism, suspected of agnosticism even, was 
to be formally approved of as president of the typical Con- 
gregational University. The nomination was referred to a 
committee of the Board of Overseers ; the report of that com- 
mittee, when made, was not acted upon immediately ; much 
eloquence was expended; many doubts expressed. Colonel 
Lyman was then thirty-six, and only recently chosen a member 
of the Board. He was one of its younger members ; but, un- 
fortunately, the younger members were by no means united 
in support of the proposed innovation. Colonel Lyman, how- 
ever, not only took a broader view, but he knew his kinsman 
well. He was so placed also as to be able to render efficient 
aid. Thirty-seven years after the event, the outcome of the 
experiment does not need to be dwelt upon. The cousin's 
faith has been justified. 

Of Colonel Lyman's scientific pursuits during the subse- 
quent years. Dr. Bowditch says: — 

" He was one of the original Trustees and Treasurer of the Zo- 
ological Museum, a member and Secretary of the Museum Faculty, and 
Assistant in Zoology. The value of his services to the Museum in 
these various capacities was gratefully acknowledged by the Director, 
Alexander Agassiz, who, in his Annual Report for 1896-97, thus speaks 
of Lyman's scientific work : ' His zoological work began with short 
papers on ornithological subjects ; he subsequently became interested in 
corals, and finally devoted himself specially to Ophiurans. The first 


Illustrated Catalogue of the Museum was from his pen, and this impor- 
tant monograph on Ophiurans was followed by numerous papers on 
the same subject, treating of new species of the group. lie wrote 
the Report on the Ophiurans of the 'Ilassler' Expedition, of the 

* Challenger,' and of the ' Blake,' which include by far the larger 
number of species of Ophiurans dredged by those deep-sea exploring 

" On the establishment of the Commission of Inland Fisheries in 
186G, Theodore Lyman became its first chairman, and gave the State 
devoted service for seventeen years without compensation. Tlie story 
of his disinterested labor in this field is told in the Commissioners' An- 
nual Reports, many of which are from his own pen, and are charac- 
terized by a brightness of style which pleasantly relieves the gravity of 
an official document. 

"In 1884, as President of the American Fish Cultural Association, 
at the thirteenth annual meeting held in Wasliingtou on May 13, he 
delivered an address which is printed in the Nineteenth Annual Report 
of the Commissioners of Inland Fislieries of Massachusetts. Here he 
sketches in the most charming manner the history of the fish industries 
of New England from the time when the inhabitants were wont to 

* dunge their grounds with codd.' He shows that fifty years after the 
settlement of the country a diminution in the number of fish in the 
New England rivers had already been noted, and describes the various 
laws enacted for their protection, culminating in 1864-65 in modern 
fish culture under the auspices of several State governments, and finally 
in the appointment in 1871 of the United States Fish Commission 
under the leadership of Professor Spencer F. Baird. 

"The various fishery commissions of the country have, to use 
Theodore Lyman's own words, ' accumulated a vast amount of accurate 
information concerning the numbers and variety of our fishes, their 
food, manner of breeding, condition of life, migration, and stages of 
growth.' Pisciculture has become a State and national industry, while 
many private fish preserves have been established in various parts of 
the country. Several species of Salmonidoe are raised regidarly for 
the market, and it is highly probable that nearly all the shad now 
taken in our Atlantic streams have originated in State or national 
hatching establishments. These results, though important, merely 
serve to indicate what great additions to the wealth of the country 
may be effected when water culture is ' practised as universally and 
methodically as is agriculture.' AVhen Americans shall have learned 
to cultivate the water thus methodically, and shall desire to honor the 
men who in their day and generation have labored to re-establish the 
fisheries of the country, no name willstand higher on the list than that 
of Theodore Lyman." 


Whatever may have been his political associations in youth 
and prior to the Civil War, Theodore Lyman came out of the 
war a Republican, but never an unthinking party man. 
Constituted as he was, he could not well be the slave of an 
organization; and, indeed, it is very questionable whether any 
man who has given close attention to scientific problems, much 
less a man of really scientific turn of mind, can hold his con- 
victions subject always to a majority caucus vote. So doing 
calls for another order of intellect ; not inferior, possibly, but 
certainly different. Voting for Abraham Lincoln in 1864, 
during the reconstruction period and the two administrations 
of Grant he took no active part in politics. Not improbably, 
also, those eight years between 1865 and 1873 were the hap- 
piest of his life, as they were the closing years of the life of his 
master in science — Louis Agassiz. Physically well, happy in 
his family life, prosperous in a worldly way, not yet forty 
years of age, satisfied with the record and the associations he 
had formed. Colonel Lyman lived, a prosperous gentleman, in 
his fair paternal home at Brookline. Surrounded by friends, 
he there dispensed a generous hospitality, and even once more 
made his appearance on the stage as a member of Colonel 
Harry Lee's locally famous amateur theatrical troupe, of 
which before the war he had been the " eccentric comedian." ^ 
With him the world then went well; its present was enjoy- 
able, its prospects were bright. 

Once only during that golden period did he come before 
the public, or find himself involved in controversy; and he 
then acquitted himself with spirit and successfully. His 
opponent was a formidable one, no other than Mr. Wendell 
Phillips. Politically, it will be remembered the year 1869 fell 
in a troubled period. The slave had been emancipated, and 
the Confederate disfranchised ; a political experiment of novel 
character was in progress. In a number of communities the 
white was to be ruled by the black, through the intervention 
of certain alien adventurers, receiving the countenance and 
support of the national government. In the wisdom, justice 
and success of this experiment, if unswervingly carried out to 
its logical end, Mr. Phillips had implicit faith. This faith he 
did not fail to preach ; and in the course of one of his deliver- 
ances he had occasion to refer, by way of illustration, to the 
1 Memoir of Henry Lee, pp. 25, 26, 32, 66. 


Garrison mob of 183-4. In so doing, he made a characteristic 
and wholly grutnitons assanlt on Colonel Lyman's fatlier, who, 
it has already been mentioned, was, at the time of that highly 
discreditable demonstration. Mayor of Boston. As such, he 
was, of course, responsible for the city's peace. Oratorical and 
declamatory assaults by Mr. Phillips, whether on the living or 
the dead, were at that time in no way uncommon. Utterly 
indifferent to correctness in his statement of facts, ingeniously 
vituperative in language and sincerely desirous of inflicting 
pain, it might be said of the great agitator even more truly 
than of the eminent Englishman of whom it was first remarked, 
that " he made of his philanthropy a stalking-horse from be- 
hind which he let fly the shafts of his individual malignity." 
To become engaged in controversy with liira partook a good 
deal of the character of a noisy street wrangle with some noto- 
rious town-scold ; but, none the less, Mr. Phillips indisputably 
held the popular ear. Had the attack been made on himself, 
Theodore Lyman would almost unquestionably have ignored 
it, — as before, and after, Cliief Justice Shaw, Phillips Brooks 
and Judge E. R. Hoar silently ignored similar attacks from the 
same quarter ; or possibly he might, in characteristic fashion, 
have turned it aside by some good-natured but clever repartee, 
as later ho did a quite dissimilar onslaught made on him by 
Senator Hoar.^ It so chanced, however, that General Lyman's 
mayoralty had been marked by two lawless outbreaks, neither 
of which has ever been forgotten, — the destruction of the 
Ursuline convent, in what is now Somerville, on the night of 
August 11, 1834, and the Garrison mob of October 1, fourteen 
months later (1835). In those early days of city government 
the police force of Boston amounted to nothing. Practically, 
there was none. Ununiformed, few in number, those com- 
posing the city constabulary loitered through the streets with 
canes, in no way different from the walking-stick in ordinary 
use, as their sole insignia of office. They bore the aspect of 
respectable citizens, somewhat elderly, perhaps, and, it might 
be, a little reduced in circumstances. In cases of riot or mob 
outbreak recourse was therefore had sometimes to the militia, 
sometimes to the fire department, or, in cases of exigency, to 
the mounted troop known as the National Lancers, a showy 

^ On this occasion he with much humor compared liimself to the man who 
boasted among his neighbors that he had "just been cuffed by tiie King." 



organization composed cliiefly of Boston truckmen. In his 
Life of his father, Edmund Quincy deals with this subject, 
and describes both the inadequacy of the force and the ingen- 
ious expedients to which the earher mayors were obliged 
to have recourse when the public peace was in jeopardy.^ 
Mayor Lyman, therefore, was not fairly open to censure on 
the score of inefficiency in not promptly suppressing either or 
both of the two outbreaks which made memorable his terms 
of office, and in which, it was long subsequently observed, "a 
portion of the people of Boston demonstrated the terrible 
truth, that they were not to be outdone in fury, even by the 
most furious abolitionist, who ever converted his stylus into 
a harpoon, and his inkhorn into a vial of wrath." ^ The work 
of the abolitionist had now been accomplished; but aboli- 
tionists were somewhat famous for length as well as vindic- 
tiveness of recollection, and, on the occasion referred to, the 
" silver-tongued orator " of the cause fairly let fly his " vial of 
wrath " at the former chief magistrate of Boston, then over a 
score of years in his grave. Not unnaturally, that magistrate's 
son was sensitive on the subject; Colonel Lyman at once met 
the onslaught of ^Ir. Phillips with a flat newspaper denial 
of the correctness of his allegations. The flood-gates were now 
open ; repetition of the charge, rejoinder, and surrejoinder fol- 
lowed in quick succession. Mr. Phillips was in his element, 
— thoroughly happy. On the other hand, his opponent, so 
far as the facts and their presentation were concerned, had 
distinctly the advantage. For a time the controversy was 
carried on in alternate press contributions and platform utter- 
ances ; the printed broadside then made its appearance ; ' 
finally. Colonel Lyman closed his side of the controversy with 
a pamphlet statement'^ which left nothing more to be said. 
As to facts, it was conclusive ; while, as respects spirit, direct- 
ness and scholarly finish it left no room for doubt as to the 
grasp of the writer, or the estimate in which he held the pro- 
fessional agitator and pseudo-reformer. Circling high above 
him in his presentation, Lyman, hawklike, pounced down on 
his opponent. His friends felt no surprise ; they knew it was 
in him to do it. 

1 Life of Josiah Quincy, pp. 396, 397 ; see also, in the case of Mayor Lyman, 
Memorial History of Boston, vol. iii. pp. 238-243. 

2 Dealings with the Dead, vol. i. p. 205. 

8 Papers relating to the Garrison Mob, edited by Theodore Lyman, 3d, 
Boston, 1870 


Going abroad shortly after this incident, Colonel and Mrs, 
Lyman passed the succeeding two years in Europe. That 
roseate period was then brought to a sudden and tragic end 
by a thunderbolt from a clear sky. At The Hague in the au- 
tumn of 1873, his daughter and only child, then in her eleventh 
year, contracted a fever, and after a brief illness died. To 
both Lj'man and his wife the blow was crushing. For the 
time being, the light had gone out from life. 

Returning with Mrs. Lyman at once to America, Colonel 
Lyman settled down at Brookline ; and with characteristic 
courage, though with diminished interest, he returned to his 
scientific pursuits. He had inherited from his father a sufficient 
though not a large property beside the home estate at Brookline, 
and neither he nor Mrs. Lyman cared for display or had extrav- 
agant tastes. Both, however, were greatly attached to their 
Brookline home and its surroundings ; and in their care and 
development and his scientific pursuits Colonel Lyman sought 
distraction. The sense of public spirit also now asserted itself, 
and the two, he and his wife, united in giving to the Massa- 
chusetts Infant Asylum, at Brookline, that first considerable 
endowment (820,000) which proved for a much needed insti- 
tution the beginning of a career of independent usefulness. 
On the 11th of December following bis return. Professor 
Agassiz died ; and in the " Atlantic Monthly " for February, 
1871, the pupil to whose wliole life the naturalist had given 
direction paid tribute to him. 

During the next nine years Colonel Lyman remained at 
home, at first slowly recovering from bereavement. Other 
children, two sons, were afterwards born to him ; and with them 
a new light dawned. He began also activel}' to interest him- 
self in politics. This first evinced itself publicly in the Hayes- 
Tilden presidential campaign of 1876 ; but in that somewhat 
memorable election he did not apparently concern himself so 
much over the presidential candidates as over the results of the 
strufrsle carried on in the Middlesex congressional district, 
adjoining that in which he lived. The notorious General 
B. F. Butler, having two years before most unexpectedly 
failed of an election in the Essex district, in which he had 
a place of summer abode, now presented himself as a candi- 
date for nomination in the ^liddlesex district, where he actu- 
ally resided. After a spirited but futile contest in opposition 


to him, he secured the nomination ; but the protestants refused 
to accept the situation, and Judge E. R. Hoar was put in 
nomiuation by them as an Independent candidate. Among 
General Butler's admirers and ardent supporters none was 
more prominent, and none so outspoken and emphatic, as 
Wendell Phillips. General Butler was in fact conspicuous 
among public men as almost the only recipient of compli- 
mentary and approving utterances on the part of Mr. Phillips. 
The latter now appeared on the Middlesex platforms as his 
advocate, and, as matter of course, was in no way sparing 
of the candidate of the Independents. This Judge Hoar did 
not forget ; and, eiglit years later, repaid by a caustic and 
well-remembered witticism. Whether a recollection of the 
Garrison mob episode of six years before was excited in Theo- 
dore Lyman's mind by the participation of his old adversary 
in the contest going on in tlie neighboring bailiwick is not 
known ; but suddenly he made his appearance on the platform 
as a canvasser for Judge Hoar. His candidate unquestionably 
embodied in great degree the political ideals of Theodore 
Lyman ; but that his dislike and distrust of Butler dated back 
to war times, and the memorable Petersburg campaign of 1864 
was equally free from doubt. Then and there no love cer- 
tainly was lost between the headquarters of the armies of the 
Potomac and the James. So Colonel Lyman now came forth 
from his Brookline retirement, and for the first time took 
public part in a political canvass. Judge Hoar's candidacy 
was merely a protest. That he had no chance of an election 
himself, and but little of causing the defeat of Butler, was rec- 
ognized from the outset ; and it excited no surprise when the 
vote polled for him fell to less than 2,000 as compared with 
over 12,000 cast for his opponent. Theodore Lyman natuially 
was disappointed ; but after his wont, he took the result good- 
naturedly. His action had, however, brought him into notice 
as a political possibility. 

As the outcome of the canvass and subsequent disputed 
election (Hayes-Tilden) of 1876, the angry issues arising out 
of the Civil War were finally disposed of, and a new class of 
questions gradually came to tlie front. Among these was a 
reform of the civil service. Party ties also were relaxing ; 
independence in politics was in vogue. Theodore Lyman 
became more and more interested. He probably now had 


in mind the idea of a possible congressional career. Why 
not ? He was yet but a little over forty, he was vvealtliy, he 
had achieved a reputation, he was not without ambition, lie 
was conscious of force, he craved activity. Though essen- 
tially a social or clubable man, and in college days active, 
always prominent, in the Pudding and the Porcellian, Lyman 
for some reason never belonged to any of the established 
Boston clubs. He had a prejudice against them. He seemed 
to regard them as mere centres of idleness, dissipation and 
gossip, sources of distractions from domestic life, — the rivals 
of home. The president of the Harvard Alumni, of the Har- 
vard Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, of the famous 
Boston Thursday Evening Club, he was long a member of 
the yet more famous Saturday Club; and for over twenty 
years he rarely, when at home, missed the monthly dinner 
of a little association of officers of the great war, to the 
hilarity and the reuiiniscences of which none contributed more 
largely. So now his political activity took that direction ; he 
became the founder of the Reform Club which, once known 
by his name, still (1906) continues to have periodical dinners 
whereat the issues of the day are warmly discussed, always 
in a spirit of independence. The way for advancement now 
opened ; and in 1882 the opportunity offered. 

President Garfield, assassinated in July, 1881, was suc- 
ceeded by Vice-President Arthur. Reconstruction had ceased 
to be an issue ; specie payments had been resumed ; the cur- 
rency question was thought to be settled, only to be revived 
in the 16 to 1 silver delusion of ten years later ; and so 
the minds of men turned to corruption in high places, the 
civil service, and reform in general. Extensive changes in 
party association were clearly impending ; a complete political 
reconstruction was more than possible. It was largely through 
mere habit that men continued to act each with his own party. 
Under these circumstances, the mid-term election of 1882 was 
not unnaturally one of surprises, a good deal mixed in charac- 
ter. As its outcome General I>. F. Butler, now the nominee 
of the Democratic party, was elected Governor of Massachu- 
setts ; and, though a Republican administration was in control 
at Washington, an opposition Congress was chosen. The up- 
rising was marked in Massachusetts otherwise than by the 
election of Butler. In the Forty-Seventh Congress the State 


had eleven members, of whom ten were chosen as Republi- 
cans; in the Forty-Eighth Congress the House of Representa- 
tives delegation was composed of four Opposition and seven 
Republicans. Yet it was not a Democratic party victory. 
The change had been effected by the Independent vote ; but 
of the four districts carried by the opponents of the Adminis- 
tration in Massachusetts the ninth only was represented by 
one denominated as " Mugwump." Put forward first by the 
Independents, and then accepted by the Democrats, Lyman 
received in this district 12,676 votes ; his Republican oppo- 
nent received 9,703. 

Purchasing a house in Washington, Colonel Lyman took up 
his residence there in November, 1883. The next two were 
years of novelty, and he unquestionably enjoyed them much. 
His health, it is true, had already begun to fail, and in this 
respect the outlook was ominous. The immediate present 
was, however, full of interest and distraction ; he and Mrs. 
Lyman took kindly to the new life, and socially made them- 
selves most acceptable at the capital ; and in Washington 
social aptitude, backed by the means for its exercise, counts for 
a great deal. Theodore Lyman was also one of a class which 
tells in Congress. An educated man with great abilities, a 
striking and genial personality, a natural quickness of retort 
and readiness in debate, he could not fail to make his presence 
felt. It was felt, and recognized. But nowhere probably does 
seniority and experience count for more than in the lower house 
of Congress. No new member, no matter how gifted, can ac- 
complish much ; his first term is one of pure probation. Yet 
Colonel Lyman in that first session distinctly made his mark, 
laying the foundations of great possible future usefulness 
if time only were given him. In particular he spoke with 
authority on military matters, and he did it effectively. The 
question of restoring his rank and so doing tardy justice to 
General FitzJohn Porter then came up, and led to a spirited 
debate. In this Lyman participated. He understood his sub- 
ject, he had prepared himself carefully, and he portrayed 
events so as to make them visible. His delivery was effective, 
and his FitzJohn Porter speech was by common consent set 
down as one of the best of the session. It establislied his 
position as a debater. 

Unfortunately, however, throughout there was a certain 


hollowness in his position. He was an Independent, — a 
" Mugwump " ! Behind him, in liis district, there was no recog- 
nized and solid party, no constituency to be counted on ; only 
open opponents to be reckoned with, and half-hearted suj> 
porters to be conciliated — if possible. The situation was un- 
satisfactory, and he could not but have felt it to be so. He 
had been elected on the issue of Civil Service reform ; but that 
question had been disposed of and removed from politics, 
and in disposing of it party lines had been effaced. The de- 
sired measui'e passed by what approached nearly to common 
consent ; and practically it was out of the way when, in early 
December, 1883, Lyman took his seat. Eleven months later, 
in November, 1884, he was defeated for a re-election. The 
circumstances, too, were, from a public point of view, dis- 
heartening, — they could not but leave a bitter taste in the 
mouth. He had been an able and faithful representative ; in 
every respect above reproach, he had reflected credit on his 
State and his constituency. Party lines were not sharply 
drawn. Lyman's natural associations were with the Republi- 
cans, — the party which had carried the country through the 
war. But the tariff also had come to the front; and from 
association he was not a free trader. On that issue he had 
separated from the Opposition, offending the Democrats, who 
had made of it a party question. Still the Republicans might 
incline to one naturally of them. Unfortunately it was the 
year of a presidential election. For an Independent all de- 
pended on the nominations to be made. Finally, the Repub- 
licans put forward James G. Blaine ; the Democrats, Grover 
Cleveland. By the reform element of the Republican party,— 
the element of which Colonel Lyman was distinctively repre- 
sentative, — the selection of JNIr. Blaine by the Republican 
convention was held to evince a reckless disregard of good 
political morals. It was at once repudiated. Thus cut off 
from Republican support. Colonel Lyman found himself with 
the Democrats, if not of them ; and the leaders of the Democ- 
racy recalled his tariff vote. Nevertheless, the single chance 
they had of carrying the INliddlesex district was with him as 
a nominee ; and on every issue now presented he was with 
them. Then the narrow, the repulsive, side of political life 
presented itself. Constituents of eminence, constituents of 
education and professional standing, men who ought to have 


known better and set a higher example, were not above tak- 
ing a partisan stand. They wanted a Democrat put up, — a 
reliable party man. So, when the ninth congressional district 
Democratic Convention met, Colonel Lyman found himself 
dropped. He had not in the first instance greatly cared to go 
into Congress ; but, being there, he had found Washington 
life enjoyable, and he had become interested in the game. 
He felt he played it well. At any rate, he was not disposed 
to desert that generous reform element in the district to which 
he owed his former election and which now stood ready to 
go down in defeat with him. So, put in nomination by the 
Independents, he made a dignified and vigorous canvass, 
though the conditions manifestly put success out of the ques- 
tion. A presidential year, "the reform epidemic," as the 
party leaders termed it, — the disturbing and incalculable 
incident of off-years, — had run its course. So, when the 
votes cast in the Ninth Massachusetts District were counted, 
it was found that 4,260 had been cast for Theodore Lyman, 
the sitting member, as compared with 12,285 for F. D. Ely, 
his successful Republican competitor, and 6,301 for the nomi- 
nee of the Democrats. On purely partisan grounds the 
Democrats had thrown away all chance of securing the con- 
trol of the district. Altogether, the experience was in many 
respects illustrative of the vicissitudes and eccentricities 
of American political life. But Theodore Lyman in 1884 
merely met the fate of Richard H. Dana in the Essex district 
in 1868, of E. Rockwood Hoar in the Middlesex district in 
1882, and of Moorfield Storey in Lyman's own district in 1900. 
In fact he did better at the polls than any one of these three. 
His vote numbered 4,260; whereas that of Mr. Dana under 
not dissimilar conditions was but 1,811, that of Judge Hoar, 
1,955, and that of Mr. Storey, 2,858. 

Again Colonel Lyman accepted his defeat with cheerful 
dignity. Part of the game, it yet was hard. In any event he 
could have served in Congress but one term more, for his in- 
firmities were now perceptibly increasing upon him ; but that 
term he would greatly have enjoyed. It would have been to 
him as the Indian Summer of life. He was in his fifty-third 
year only when the end of his activities came. 

On Theodore Lyman's remaining time it is unnecessary to 
dwell. At his retirement from Congress he had yet thirteen 


years to live, — hopeless years of constantly increasing in- 
firmity. Among his lifelong associates was Robert C. Win- 
throp, Jr., a friend from college tlays, with wliom at one 
period he used to have much political discussion, the two 
after 1861 in no way agreeing. Referring to this later period 
and the painful and saddened declining years of his father's 
life, Mr. Wintlirop, in his Memoir of R. C. Winthrop, says, he 
" was particularly pleased towards the last wiien one of the 
most valued of his Brookliiie neighbors and a greater sufferer 
than himself — our associate Theodore Lyman — sent him 
from a sick-room the cheering message : ' You never neglect a 
duty and you never forget a friend.'" Thus considerate of 
others, himself surrounded by friends equally considerate. 
Colonel Lyman passed the closing years at Brookline. Facing 
the inevitable with a calm and unflinching courage, he, with- 
out complaint, endured. A certain exaggeration of manner 
and exuberance in speech, which had been characteristic of 
him from his youth, by degrees disappeared, and was replaced by 
a quiet, silent dignity almost stoical. The underlying sterling 
qualities of the man shone forth ; but the cup was full. At 
Nahant, on the afternoon of September 9, 1897, he was at last 
mercifully released from what had long been a living entomb- 
ment.^ He had been married a few weeks less than forty-one 
years; a widow and two sons survived liim. His name, inher- 
ited from father and grandfather, was perpetuated in a fourth 

1 See the obituary notice in Memoir of Henry Lee, by John T. Morse, Jr., 
Boston, 1905, pp. 410-412. 





When a man is born, lives nearly his whole life, and finally 
dies in one and the same town, it is alwa3'S more or less inter- 
esting as well as somewhat curious to fix the precise localities 
associated with him. Especially is this true in America, and 
of one who in America bears an historic name ; for, in Ameri- 
can cities, business and fashion shift their quarters rapidly, and 
the favorite place of residence of one generation, when it does 
not become the slums, is almost invariably the trading district 
of the next. Boston, with its North end and its South end, its 
Copp's Hill and its Fort Hill, its Province House, Spring Lane 
and Church Green, has, first and last, but especially during the 
second half of the nineteenth century, afforded a somewhat 
striking illustration of this common experience. The Boston 
Post-office now stands on what was originally known as Gov- 
ernor Winthrop's marsh: but, though associated with Boston, 
town and city, from the beginning, the generations of the Win- 
throp family — everywhere and always "first people" — have 
not continuously lived in Boston. There is a long Stonington 
gap. The first Boston residence of the Winthrops is, however, 
very delightfully described by Hawthorne in one of the best 
chapters of "The Scarlet Letter." Standing just above 
" Governor Winthrop's marsh," this house occupied part of the 
site of the present Old South Building, directly in the rear of 
the historic meeting-house. Later, in Judge Sewall's time, 
Chief Justice and Mnjor-General Wait Winthrop resided, it is 
not unsafe to say, within a block of that locality; and there, 
after her husband's death. Judge Sewall paid court to his 
widow. Subsequently Thomas Lindall Winthrop, Lieutenant- 


Governor of the Commonweiilth (1826-1832) and President 
of this Society (1835-1841), lived at the west corner of Beacon 
and Walnut Streets. There he died, not half a mile from the 
spot where stood the house whence nine years less than two 
centuries before his ancestor in the fifth generation had been 
carried forth to his grave. The subject of this memoir, the 
second Robert Charles Winthrop, was born almost between 
the two sites, at No. 7 Treniont Place, immediately in rear of 
the Boston Atheuteura building; and he died, seventy-one 
years later, at 10 Walnut Street, not a stone's throw from 
where his grandfather had passed away sixty-four years pre- 
viously. Coming into the world on the eastern slope of Beacon 
Hill, on the Summer Street approach to Beacon Hill he passed 
his boyhood, again on its eastern side his earlier manhood, and 
on Beacon Hill lie closed his life. Born Sunday, December 7, 
1831, lie died Monday, June 5, 1905. 

At the time of the birth of the younger Robert C. Winthrop 
— who always, even after the death of his father (1894), kept 
the designation of " Jr." — the first Robert Charles was in his 
twenty-sixth year, and about to enter upon that career of 
public life which, so far as the tenure of office went, came to 
an abrupt close in 1851. Until, therefore, the younger Robert 
was a youth of seventeen, his father, to whom he was always 
greatly attached, was immersed in politics ; and, a large por- 
tion of the time, was absent in Washington. Those years, 
with boys, are apt to be the impressionable period ; and in 
young Robert's case the somewhat chequered experiences of 
his father during that politically troubled time — the bitter 
denunciation to which he was subjected and the personal 
enmities thereby developed — were never forgotten. All 
througli life they materially influenced his son's views both of 
men and events. As he wrote of himself later, by nature he 
was a conservative, and somewhat of a reactionist ; and the 
trend given to afifairs between 1850 and 1860 was one with 
which he never got to be in sympathy. So far as politics were 
concerned, things with him went wrong early; nor did they 
ever afterwards right themselves. 

Young Robert's school life was broken in upon at the begin- 
ning ; for he was just six years old when his father first went 
to Washington (December, 1840) as a member of Congress, and 
among his earliest recollections was being taken by his father 


to the White House and there seeing President Van Buren, 
who, to amuse the boy sitting on his knee, showed him his 
watch and seals. This must have been in the early months of 
1841. In the summer of 1842 Mrs. Winthrop died ; and from 
that time on, both young Robert's home life and education 
were somewhat casual. At nine (1843) he was sent to a 
boarding-school kept by Dr. J. A. Weiss in the Roxbury High- 
lands, the only substitute there then was for the more elaborate 
and far better equipped establishments which, in response to a 
distinctly felt demand, began to come into existence a genera- 
tion later ; and after that it was only during vacations and 
intermittently that he came under his father's influence. His 
mother (Eliza Cabot Blanchard) was a ward of her great-uncle 
S. P. Gardner, and her relations with him were so close that 
the boy was always in the habit of referring to his mother's 
guardian as his " grandfather." One of young Robert's early 
reminiscences, as he afterwards recorded, was of the quaint 
Vassall house in Summer Street, occupied until her death, 
in 1853, by " Old Lady Gardner," as she was called, " when 
the picturesque mansion, with its gal)le end to the street, was 
taken down. In its wide courtyard in front and large garden 
[behind the stal)le] in tlie rear I used constantly to play as a 
child. The out-of-door grapes and pears were famous, — a 
veritable r?(S in urhe ! Tlie great affection of my grandfather 
for my mother, and his esteem for my father, led him to be 
very kind to me, and I often sat with him in his study, almost 
a separate building, adjoining the garden, when he showed me 
many curious and interesting books or talked about early days 
in Wenham and elsewhere." This old, colonial mansion,^ 
with its wooden fence and gate-way, and ample courtyard, 
still distinctly recalled by Bostonians of the early city period, 
stood facing East on the South side of Summer Street, between 
Washington and Chauncy Streets, on the present site of the 
C. F. Hovey dry-goods store. The house then occupied by 
the elder Robert C. Winthrop, after he left Tremont Place, 
was above it, towards Washington Street. 

The younger Roljert C. Winthrop's life naturally divided 
itself into two periods. During the earlier period his strong 
desire was for European life and variety; during the later 

^ A picture of the Gardner hon?e and yard can be found in J. J. Putnam's 
Memoir of Dr. James Jackson (1905), p. 116. 


his home, or Massachusetts, life was unbroken, and somewhat 
tame. The dividing date was September 26, 1871, when he 
Landed in New York after an absence from America of two 
years and a quarter. He did not again cross the Atlantic. 
His first foreign experience was while yet at Dr. Weiss's 
school, and in the companionship of his father. Leaving 
Boston on the Cunard steamer " Hibernia," April 1, 1847, the 
two got back to Boston September 19 following. Of that ex- 
perience the elder Winthrop nearly half a century later pub- 
lished a pleasant account in his little volume of " Reminiscences 
of Foreign Travel"' (1894). ]\Ir. Winthrop and the boy then 
covered a good deal of ground, visiting England, Scotland and 
Ireland ; and, on the continent, France, Switzerland and the 
Rhine region. Young Robert, at the time a little less than 
fourteen, listened in the Houses of Parliament to Peel, 
Brougham, Lyndhurst, Palmcrston, Stanley and Lord John, 
saw Wellington officiating at a state military review, and was 
present at a rendering of " Elijah " led by Mendelssohn in per- 
son ; while at the theatre, to which form of entertainment he 
was both in youth and middle life much addicted, he heard 
Grisi, Jenny Lind and Lal)lache sing, saw Fanny Ellsler and 
Taglioni dance, and Rachel and Fanny Kemble act. Altogether 
the early trip abroad made on him an abiding impression ; and, 
not unnaturally, when he came home he felt no strong desire to 
go back to Dr. Weiss's charge. So, after a short trial of the 
Boston Latin School, young Robert drifted to the Andover 
Pliillips Academy, where he remained two j'ears and a half, 
fitting for Harvard. He entered college in 1850. His winter 
vacations he had then been in the custom of passing in Wash- 
ington ; the summers at Newport, or in the houses of his rela- 
tives. For one constituted as he was such a mode of life was 
most undesirable. At Andover, however, he did, for the first 
and last time during his whole academic period, get and main- 
tain a fair rank in his class. Quick enough at his studies he 
would not, at school or in college, ap|)ly liimself. He had also 
at this time acquired, as he himself subsequently expressed 
it, " a reputation in the fiiniily for wilfulness." 

Entering college when he yet lacked four months of sixteen 
years of age, his residence at Cambridge extended from 1850 
to 1856. In his case it certainly was not a studious period. 
" The contrast," as he afterwards wrote, " between the quiet 


atmosphere of Andover and the temptations and comparative 
independence of Cambridge, so near Boston, was very great. 
The result was that I neglected my studies and developed a 
habit of incessant theatre-going." But in his student life, how- 
ever devoid it may have been of advance towards a good edu- 
cational equipment, young Winthrop had much social success, 
and in that way derived from it very considerable enjoyment. 
In clubs and societies, other than literary, he was distinctly a 
favorite. Aiwa3's prominent, usually marshal or president, he 
was not only " thought to excel as a presiding officer," but he 
actually had a marked natural aptitude for that function, 
" conducting initiations as well as more formal business in 
an orderly and systematic manner." Finally', he later on re- 
corded, " our class election [for the exercises immediately pre- 
ceding Commencement] was held on Monday, March 13, 1851. 
In those days the post of Orator was much the most important, 
— not, as now [1902], that of Chief Marshal. Charles Russell 
Lowein was the most popular man in the class, and could 
have been elected Orator by a practically unanimous vote, but 
he declined to stand, as he was already First Scholar, which 
he thought honor enough. Then ensued a contest ; but on the 
fifth ballot I received a majority over all other candidates, and 
was subsequently chosen by acclamation to be President of 
the Class Supper. . . . The weather on Class Day (Friday, 
June 23) was fine and everything went off well, my oration 
seeming to please, tho' it would have been better had I put more 
work in it." In point of fact everything on that occasion went 
off with exceptional cdat, largely owing to Winthrop himself. 
He was by nature adapted for functions of the sort ; for though, 
as he very frankly admitted, not disposed to exert himself to 
any undue extent in the drudgery of literary preparation, he 
naturally had a vivacious and pointed delivery, easily got in 
sympathy with an audience, and, as a host, was in his ele- 
ment. In no other capacity did he appear so well, — quiet, 
easy in bearing, gracious and sufficiently dignified, lie put 
every one at ease. His class-day prominence was, too, very 
grateful to his father, to whom the son's collegiate course had 
not in other respects been a source of unmixed gratification. 

It had been the elder Winthrop's hope that young Robert 
would acquire a taste for political life, following in his own 
^ See Harvard Memorial Biographies, vol. i. pp. 296-327. 


footsteps. The indication of certain popular qualities implied 
in his selection as class-orator and the success of his oration as 
j-espects delivery " led my father to think I might without dilVi- 
culty develop a knack at stump-speaking and that a political 
career might gradually open itself to me. There was a good 
deal in this suggestion, but it did not smile to me. I was not 
what is generally known as a 'good American.' Our institu- 
tions were too democratic for me. I wholly disbelieved in un- 
restricted suffrage, preferring a conservative republic, with 
long terms of office, and a suffrage based on property qualifi- 
cations. The scramble for salaried posts on the part of blatant 
demagfofrues, of which I had seen and heard so much at Wash- 
ington and elsewhere, continually disgusted me, as ofLen did 
the machinery of caucuses and primary elections. I had some 
idea I might one day gain distinction as a writer, but I made 
up my mind never to be a politician. 

" In my ^lemoir of my father I have described how my 
grandfather was known at Harvard in 1778 as ' English Tom,' 
and my father forty-six years later dubbed ' English Win- 
throp ' by some of his classmates, as a result of native reserve 
and ceremonious manners. So I, when a Sophomore, was 
taken to task in a friendly way by Professor Fclton for affect- 
ing a sort of ' English hauteur.' There was no affectation 
about it. I was by nature reserved except with intimates, 
combining a sort of youthful bashfulness with extreme short- 
ness of vision, and my inability to recognize people at a little 
distance often made me seem cold or indifferent." 

"English hauteur" was, however, not exactly the char- 
acteristic for which, in Faculty circles at least, he was chiefly 
noted. He has himself given an amusing account of an inter- 
view he once had, in undergraduate years, with Dr. James 
Walker, President of the University, during the latter part of 
Winthrop's collegiate course. He had been summoned to 
receive what was known as a " Public Admonition " for im- 
proper conduct during the delivery of a Dudleian lecture, the 
improper conduct having in this case been " tlie consumption 
and distribution of peanuts in the College Chapel" while the 
lecture was being there delivered. "I could not in conscience 
deny the charge ; and I was aware that any attempt to do so 
would be futile, as I had not hmg before been credibly assured 
that no less competent an authority than a well-known Pro- 


fessor of Political Economy had personally identified a heap 
of shells under my seat. I ventured, however, to insinuate 
some slight palliation of the enormity of which I had been 
guilty, by pointing out that no inconsiderable portion of that 
Dudleian Lecture had been devoted to undermining certain 
religious tenets which I had from childhood been taught to 
reverence. Dr. Walker rejoined, in accents of unmistakable 
severity, although, as it seemed to me, there played across his 
expressive features the shadow — the momentary shadow — of 
a smile : ' Mr. Winthrop, your conduct in this, as in some 
other matters, has been marked by an incorrigible want of 
decorum.' " 

Discontinuing his Cambridge residence in the summer of 
1856, Winthrop entered the law office of our late associate 
Leverett Saltonstall, whose marriage to a cousin of his had 
led to an intimacy ; but his office attendance was, like his 
attendance at Law School lectures, far from regular, and, as 
he afterwards wrote, while " I read comparatively little I 
acquired a general acquaintance with the usages of our local 
courts and the ways of local practitioners which confirmed 
in me a distaste for the profession which was perhaps unrea- 
sonable. In September, 1857, I was, however, admitted a 
member of the Suffolk bar on the strength of my three years' 
studies ; but I have never practised." 

Wiuthrop's own description of his next, and far more im- 
portant, step in life is so characteristic, and, for those famihar 
with both parties and the Boston social circle of that period 
so suggestive, that it cannot be omitted : " In the Autumn 
[October 15, 1857] I was married to Frances Pickering Adams, 
generally known as ' Fanny Adams,' youngest daugliter of 
Mr. Benjamin Adams, a near neighbor of ours in Pemberton 
Square. I was then a little less than twenty-three years old, 
she a year younger, though looking about seventeen. My 
father thought me rather young to marry, and her parents 
would very naturally have preferred a son-in-law with larger 
means. Our joint income was a small one, and in looking 
back upon the undertaking it certainly seems to have been 
rash, but we were very happy and managed to keep out of 
debt. To many persons besides myself she was one of the 
most — if not the most — attractive girls in Boston, small, 
graceful, with a bewitching expression and golden hair, an 


exceptionally good dancer, with a soprano voice, much love 
of music, a sunny disposition and a lively sense of humor. 
She came of a long-lived family and had enjoyed excellent 
health up to the spring of 185G, when she took cold while sus- 
taining the principal part in some private theatricals managed 
by Arthur Dexter (H. U. 1851) and given by Mrs. Samuel 
Hooper at 56 Beacon Street. This cold left her with a cough 
which, though slight and intermittent, sometimes occasioned 
anxiety, and obliged her to nearly give up her singing. It 
was the opinion of Dr. Jacob Bigelow that a few Avinters in 
the South of Europe were very desirable for her, and his 
advice accorded with my inclinations." 

Sailing for Europe a week after his wedding (October 21, 
1857), Robert Winthrop returned to Boston, a widower, thirt}-- 
two months later, in June, 18G0. His young wife had 
died of tubercular consumption at Rome the previous April, 
almost exactly two years and a half after their marriage. 
During that time Mrs. Winthrop had, however, as a rule," 
though not strong, been fairly well, and both of them seem to 
have enjoyed Europe greatly. Travelling much, usually by 
carriage, they made repeated visits to England, France and 
Italy, crossing the Alps, passing much time at Paris, at Pau 
and on the Riviera, visiting Malta, spending a winter in Rome, 
and part of a summer on the Rhine. More tlian forty years 
afterwards, referring to the close of this first marriage, Mr. 
Winthrop said of his wife that, though never free from 
anxiety on her account, "until the last few hours she was 
mercifully spai"ed from suffering, was fully conscious to the 
end, retaining throughout her illness her cheerful, sunny dis- 
position." Preparing to return at once to America by steamer 
from Liverpool, he personally arranged at INIarseilles for the 
transportation of the embalmed lemains of Mrs. Winthrop by 
a sailing vessel to New Yoik, " the master undertaking to 
reserve his cabin on deck exclusively for the body." May 28 
" she was laid to rest in the Benjamin Adams tomb at Mt. Au- 
burn, 189 Woodbine Path, a beautiful situation. That morn- 
ing a funeral service, attended only by relations and intimate 
friends, took place at Pemberton Square, Rev. S. K. Lothrop, 
D.D. (who had married us), officiating. At both these ser- 
vices, the one in Rome and the one in Boston, I took immense 
pains with the flowers, and think they would have pleased her." 



When this brief episode of his early manhood thus closed, 
Mr. Winthrop was only in his twenty-sixth year. His second 
marriage took place just nine years later (June 1, 1869), and 
the intervening period was passed at Boston when at home, 
but chiefly in European travel, for which he at this time had 
a strongly developed taste. In America liis journeys never 
extended beyond Saratoga and the eastern seaboard cities ; 
though once, in 1857, he went to Charleston and Savannah, 
" going by sea from New York and receiving many attentions 
from southern relatives." It was, however, during the winter 
following his return that he began to interest liimself in those 
family manuscripts to the arrangement and publication of 
which he later devoted much time and no inconsiderable 
amount of money. Getting " homesick for Europe," he passed 
nine months of the next year (1862) abroad, visiting England, 
France and Italy, travelling with his college and life-long 
friends, Charles Thorndike and Theodore Chase, and meeting, 
among others. Count Bismarck, then representing the King of 
Prussia at the Court of the Emperor Napoleon, ex-Chancellor 
Brougham, at that time a very old man, and Earl Grey. Still 
hungering for Europe, in 1863 he was abroad twice, passing 
his time chiefly at Paris, a little in London and Pan. In 1864, 
June to August, " followed another short but very pleasant 
European trip"; not so much in Paris as before. "I was 
the better part of a month in England and Scotland — Tun- 
bridge Wells, St. Leonards, Edinburgh, the Trossachs. I had 
tired of Boston society and went out little in the winter of, 
1864-65, busying myself in work on the Winthrop papers." 
And then again, "three months in Europe." The fact was 
Europe afforded liim variety ; he there found interest, excite- 
ment, even occupation in a way. But Boston was monotonous 
and dull ; the streets were not gay, the theatres were indiffer- 
ent ; he met continually the same people ; he was, in a word, 
ennuye, — bored. 

Europe, it must also be remembered, was to an American, 
especially to an American of the Robert Winthrop type, a 
far more fascinating place before the revolutionizing Franco- 
German war than it now is. Mr. F. E. Parker, formerly a 
member of the Society noted for his keen observation and in- 
cisive speech, is said to have been in the custom of asserting 
that it was the mission of America to vulgarize Europe ; and 


our associate, Professor Norton, I remember, once declared 
in discussion before this Society that, allowing this to be more 
or less true, and that it was indeed the mission of America to 
vulgarize Europe, it was no less certainly the mission of Ger- 
many to brutalize it. Assuming a degree of truth in both 
propositions, it will not be denied it is since 1870 that both 
Germany and America have in their respective missions put in 
the most telling work. Prior to 1870 there was to cultivated 
Americans a certain atmosphere of remoteness about Europe, 
both in time and space, much less perceptible now. London 
was yet to a degree old-time ; Paris was imperial ; Rome was 
mediaeval. The Papacy was a secular as well as a spiritual 
power, and an American in the Eternal City seemed to go back 
at once three centuries of time, as well as to be obviously 
several thousand miles from Boston. The Piazza di Sj^agna of 
18G0 was distinctively Roman; the Quirinal of 1906 is unmis- 
takably suggestive of Chicago. But perhaps the change is 
most perceptible in Paris. 

Three centuries before, Montaigne had described himself as 
always "perfectly friends with Paris," and declared that "the 
more beautiful cities I have seen since, the more the beauty 
of this still wins upon my affection. I love her tenderly even 
to her warts and blemishes . . . this great city, great in people, 
great in the felicity of her situation ; but, above all, great and 
incomparable in variety and diversity of commodities: the 
glory of France, and one of the most noble ornaments of the 
world." In common with many Americans, Robert Winthrop 
felt towards the French capital of the middle of the nineteenth 
century much as the old Provencal did towards that of the 
middle of the sixteenth. In Paris he felt most at home. It 
■was the period of the Second Empire ; and, between 1857 and 
1870, the years when Mr. Winthrop loved best to be there, 
Paris was gay, brilliant, exciting. The city was in process of 
transformation, but quaint bits of the old town were yet to be 
found. The Palais Royal was in its glory ; it was the day of 
V^four and the Trois-Frferes. The Zouave, springy in step and 
picturesquely garbed, was so much in evidence that the morn- 
ing air seemed to ring with his bugles ; while the Turco, with 
his white burnous and glittering arms, contributed an oriental 
touch to the scene. The marshals were resplendent; the very 
gendarmes were in striking contrast to the London or New 


York police. The city by the Seine was strange, picturesque, 
resonant. It may all have been scenic ; it certainly was not 
republican ; and the event showed that, as components, paste- 
board, tinsel and sham entered into it largely : but to an 
American, especially to an American who, like Robert Win- 
throp, made no pretence of being a "good American," there 
was about it an undeniable fascination. Boston suffered by 
the contrast : — Beacon Hill might be all very well, but it was 
not the Rue de Rivoli ; Washington Street had little in com- 
mon with the Boulevard ; and as to the Champs Elys^es, it 
was then " Tom " Appleton announced the new dispensation 
that when good Bostonians died they went to Paris. 

Such to an American was Europe anterior to the Franco- 
German war, — the Europe, and more especially the Paris, for 
which Robert Winthrop grew "homesick" when passing the 
winters in Boston between his thirtieth and fortieth years. 
Of this period and his plans and aspirations he long afterwards 
wrote: — '"During the nearly three years which elapsed be- 
tween my return home towards the close of 1862 and my 
now [1866] going away, I had tried hard at intervals to 
secure some permanent occupation. Practice of the law had 
as little attraction for me as ever, — politics even less, owing 
to the shameful attacks upon my father, for some account of 
which see my Memoir of him. Military service in the Civil 
War was out of the question owing to my liability to water on 
the knee, — and even had this been otherwise, such service 
would have been distasteful to me, as I had friends and rela- 
tives at the South and believed the Republican party to be 
largely responsible for the conflict. For literary work I was 
better suited, and I occasionally availed myself of opportunities 
for writing newspaper articles. At one time I thought seri- 
ously of. going to San Francisco on such an errand, but was 
rather discouraged by my father's old friend, Hon. Edward 
Stanley, who represented the tone of society there as coarse 
and convivial, and thought that a reserved, fastidious man 
like myself, who hated being asked to ' drink,' would be 
handicapped at the outset. I have no doubt he was right. 
I was always more of a dreamer than a worker, capable of 
much energy by fits and starts, alternating with periods of 
more or less indulgence and indolence. I wrote verses and 
short stories which failed to satisfy me, — a novel which I 


burned when half finished, it fell so short of my ideal, — but 
it was a pleasure to me to assist my father in his various 
historical and commemorative undertakings." 

During the summer of 18G6 Mv. Winthrop, weary of Amer- 
ica — again "homesick" for Europe — made preparations for 
a long absence, and in October sailed for Liverpool. The 
following winter was passed in Paris " doing a prodigious 
amount of theatre-going and being much in society, chiefly 
American, though occasionally foreign " ; and the following 
March he started with his friend, William E. Howe, of Boston, 
" on what proved a very delightful trip to Spain and Portu- 
gal." Winthrop's account of his experiences during this trip 
are truly vivid ; and, though the travelling was rough, he 
evidently enjoyed it greatly. 

" After a brief visit to Bayonne and Biarritz, and longer ones to 
Burgos and Valladolid, we passed nearly a fortnight in Madrid, pro- 
foundly impresed by the art-coilections and by a trip to the Escorial. 
Our Minister, John P. Hale, took me to an evening reception at the 
house of the Countess Montijo, mother of the Empress Eugenie, where 
I made the acquaintance of divers Spanish grandees, male and female, 
and found them unalTected and pleasant. The Duke of Berwick and 
Alva (to whom we brought a letter) took us in person all over his 
most luxurious and interesting palace. In Madrid, too, I had my 
first experience of bull-fighting. On leaving there we went first to 
Toledo, and then, via Aranjuez and Ciudad Real and Badajoz, by rail 
to Lisbon, which we reached April 1st, finding it a really beautiful city, 
but the people much less well-mannered than the Spanish. Harvey, 
our Minister, and Banuelos,^ the Spanish Minister, who had married 
Mary Adeline Thorndike, were full of attention, and I was at the 
house of Koadriaffsky, the Russian Minister, of Sir Augustus Paget, 
the British Minister, whose wife (born Countess Hohenthal) was very 
pleasant, besides seeing something of two leaders of Lisbon society, the 
old Marchioness of Viana and the Countess of Penafiel. At a large 
evening reception, at the house of the Deputy Vasconcellos, I was 
much struck by the fact that nearly all the men stayed in one room 
smoking or playing cards, leaving the ladies to themselves. At one 
time Banuelos and I were the only males in the biggest drawing-room, 

1 During the week in which this Memoir was submitted to the Society the 
following item appeared in the deatii announcements of the " Boston Transcript" 
(March 5, 1906): — 

"BANUELOS — At Biarritz, France, March 3, Count He Banuelos, senator, 
former under secretary of state, minister to Portugal and ambassador to Berlin. 
New York and Washington papers please copy." 


which was full of women. . . . Portuguese bull-fights are supposed to 
be less dangerous than Spanish ones owing to the tipping of the horns, 
but in Lisbon I saw a man killed by falling on his head after being 
tossed. April 8, 1867, we went by rail from Lisbon to Carregado, 
where we were met by an ancient chariot and pair, driving thence by 
Cereal to Caldas da Rainha, where we passed the night. Next day 
we drove to the famous Abbey of Alcobaga, of which Beckford gives 
so interesting a description before its devastation ; then by Aljubarrota 
to the still more famous Church and Monastery of Batalha, an archi- 
tectural creation of marvellous beauty. April 10, we drove from Leiria 
to Pombal, taking thence a train to Oporto, where we stayed two days 
and with which we were greatly pleased. Our intention had been to 
go on to Braga and the Minho country, but in order to reach Seville 
for Holy Week we had to give this up. We found time, however, for 
half a day at the quaint old city of Coimbra, where we were treated 
with great courtesy at the University and elsewhere. Leaving there 
in the evening of April 13, we travelled by rail via Badajoz to Merida, 
which we reached at six the next morning and there took the dili- 
gence across country to Seville. This was a very unusual route for 
foreigners to take, and as it was Palm Sunday, with villages en fete, 
we saw a great deal of local coloring. The road was very rough, our 
horses numbering from nine to twelve. After passing Almendralejo, 
not a bad-looking town, we entered upon the dirty, interminable 
plains of Estremadura, but by sundown were out into the defiles of 
the Sierra Morena. Our supper towards midnight in a vaulted kitchen, 
jammed with muleteers and peasants, with huge logs blazing in a 
raediteval fireplace was indescribably weird. Everybody was polite, 
but we excited great curiosity. We reached Seville on the morning 
of April 15 and stayed there nine days, enjoying every moment. . . . 
April 27, we took a small steamer to Gibraltar, where the Governor 
Gen. Sir Richard Airey, an old friend of my father, was very civil, 
and at dinner at his residence, ' The Convent,' we met a number of 
officers. April 30, we went over to Morocco in the steamer Hercules, 
passing a day and night in Tangier, — that apotheosis of picturesque 
filth, — scouring its environs on horseback with a guide named Mo- 
hammed Ben Jackjemed, besides being presented to the Moorish 
Governor and smoking a little opium. In the afternoon of May 1st 
we returned to Gibraltar, starting for Andalusia the next morning with 
a guide and three horses, the one which fell to my lot being an English 
hunter, — the whole trip having been planned by Sprague, the U. S. 
Consul, a very gentlemanly and obliging person. The roaa was a mere 
mule-path, but the scenery glorious, and after ten hours in the saddle, 
— lunching on an islet in the Guadiaro River, — we reached Gaucin, 
where we had an excellent dinner in a vaulted kitchen, the landlord's 


daughter decking the table with wild flowers. The next morning 
(May 3) we were in the saddle at G.45 and reached Ronda at 2.30 
P.M. without drawing rein, — a neat, pretty town, looking in the 
distance like a castle in a fairy tale. Wonderful bridge over the 
Tajo, the chasm being 300 feet deep, and perhaps as wonderful 
Ronda oranges which do not bear transportation. The English papers 
of this period represented this part of Spain as infested by brigands, 
but we met none but polite peasantry, and the * Guardias Civiles ' 
seemed to spring out of the ground by magic. Throughout this trip 
i was greatly struck by the excellence of the Spanish police. . . . 
Saturday, May 4, we were in the saddle soon after 5 a.m. The mule 
path grew worse and the scenery grander and grander, as we crossed 
two high mountains of the Serrauia chain. Passing the town and 
castle of El Burgo, we rested for a while at Casarabonela, and at 
sunset reached Pizarra, a pretty little place embosomed in orange and 
lemon trees, rhododendrons and pomegranates. Here we passed the 
night, faring comfortably in a roadside tavern frequented by muleteers, 
— capital ham and eggs, clean beds, but no wash-stand. Here also 
we parted with our guide, who with true Castilian dignity swept the 
money into his sash uncounted. Sunday, May 5, we went by rail 
to Malaga and the following afternoon by Bobadilla to Antequera, 
where the rail ceased and we had an uncomfortable night journey in 
a diligence, via Archidona and Loja, to Granada, which we reached 
at 8 A.M., May 7, 1867. Here we stayed three delightful days, en- 
chanted with the Alhambra, more than enchanted with the general life. 
Altogether we enjoyed Granada more than anything else in Spain." 

Crossing the frontier May 28, Mr. Howe at Bayonne parted 
from Mr. Winthrop, and went to Aix les Bains, while Winthrop 
went on to Paris. He was there forced to succumb to an attack 
of liis "old enemy," water on the knee, the result of over 
exertion in Spain. After a summer passed largely as a cripple, 
" dragged about the Great Exposition in bath-chair," on the 
1st of August Mr. Winthrop set out on a trip to Russia, in 
company with his step-brother, (xeoi-ge Welles, recently (188G) 
graduated from Harvard. Going by way of Rheims and Nancy 
to Munich, at Salzburg they joined for a time the elder Win- 
throp and his family, who had gone abroad in June, and with 
them went to Linz. Steaming down the Danube to Vienna, 
they passed on to Pesth and Cracow, which the tourists thought 
" a nice old place, with too many Jews." Thence they went 
to Warsaw ; but, rumors of cholera cutting short their stay, 
they hurried on to St. Petersburg, getting there Septem- 


ber 1, and finding it quite cold. September 9, they reached 
Moscow — 

" after another long journey ; and liked it much better than St. 
Petersburg on the whole. Besides the sights in the city and its neigh- 
borhood, we travelled two and a half hours by rail to the famous mon- 
astery of Troitsa, where we saw, among other things, the venerable 
Philarete, Patriarch of Moscow, then aged 90 and very feeble. The 
weather was so cold we abandoned our proposed trip to the great Fair of 
Nijni Novgorod, and, September 14, 1867, returned to St. Petersburg, 
where we stayed four and a half more days, and after a long journey, 
via Wilna and Konigsberg, reached Danzig in the evening of September 
19th. The most distinct impression three weeks in Russian dominions 
made upon me was the rapacity of the natives, the excellence of the 
ballets, and the magnificent mode of life of the Imperial family. Dan- 
zig we found a quaint and attractive place, the Nuremberg of the North. 
September 21, we reached Berlin, where our Minister, Mr. Bancroft, 
was very civil. Three days later on leaving the Royal Palace I un- 
accountably slipped on an iron staircase and in falling broke one of the 
bones of my right arm just above the wrist, the setting being very pain- 
ful. This disarranged all our plans. There was nothing to be done 
but to return to Paris as soon as I was able to travel, which was not 
until the evening of September 30, with my arm in a plaster cast. . . . 
On the 23d of October the plaster was taken oflf my arm and I resumed 
my ordinary Parisian life, besides occasionally attending debates in 
the French Chambers, listening to Thiers and Rouher among other 

The following is from Mr. Winthrop's " Scribbling-diary," 
as he termed the somewhat characteristic notes relating among 
other matters to the debates to which he listened at the period 
I'ef erred to : — 

"Dec. 4, 1867. Jules Favre's speech a violent denunciation of a 
state of things for which he suggests no remedy. 

"Dec. 9th. At the Corps Legislatif with my father from 1 to 6.30. 
Dull speech of nearly two hours from Garnier- Pages, then an eloquent, 
bitter one from Emile Ollivier, whom Thiers interrupted, and then 
replied to in the most excited manner amid much cheering. Alto- 
gether an interesting and animated debate on the Foreign policy of the 
Government. Schneider, an estimable man, but a poor presiding officer. 
Thiers reminded me of Mr. Savage in manner. Rouher is somewhat 
"Websterian with fine flashes and retorts. Garnier-Pages a trifle Cal- 
hounish ; while Ollivier has a fine voice, but looks like a little 


Returning to America after an absence of over two years, 
Mr. Winthrop reached New York early in December, 1868, 
and passed the rest of the winter in Boston, busy disman- 
tling the dwelling-house at No. 1 Pemberton Square, in which 
his father had made his home for twenty years. On the 1st of 
the following June Mr. Winthrop married Elizabeth, oldest 
daughter of Robert M. Mason, of Boston. Ten years his 
junior, he had made Miss Mason's acquaintance at Pau in 
1862. Of the second Mrs. Winthrop he long afterwards 
wrote, — "We have now [1902] been married nearly a third 
of a century, and I can truly say I have never known a woman 
who possessed for me so irresistible a charm." 

Like himself, Mrs. Winthrop preferred Europe to America ; 
so a month after their marriage they sailed from New York 
(June 30, 1869). Passing the winter in Italy, where he under- 
went severe illness, causing some temporary anxiety, Mr. 
Winthrop and his wife the next May returned to Paris, and 
the summer found them in Switzerland, reaching Berlin by 
way of Vienna. It was the year of the Franco-German war 
and the downfall of the Second Empire: — 

"September 19 found us at the Hotel du Nord at Berlin, where we 
stayed eight days, with excursions to Potsdam, etc. Little sign of war 
save contribution-boxes for the wounded, and rows of captured cannon 
and mitrailleuses in the Palace-Court. Amazing caricatures of Napo- 
leon III. in shop windows, with some indecent ones of the Empress 
Eugenie. At dinner at our Minister's [Mr. Bancroft] I sat next to 
Brandt, Queen Augusta's private secretary, who said the King had 
testified to the personal courage displayed by Napoleon III. at Sedan, 
to his moral courage in surrendering to avoid useless slaughter, and to 
the dignity with which he bore himself after tlie surrender. lie further 
stated that Moltke's plans for this campaign were drawn four years a^o, 
that the latter's secret agents had satisfied him of the Frent-h inferiority 
of numbers and the insufficient armament of their fortresses, that the 
Chassepot was really a better weapon than the needle-gun, but that 
the French fired hurriedly and too high. 

"Sept. 27, 1870. We went from Berlin to Cassel, where we were 
delighted with the Gallery, which I had never seen, and with Wilhelms- 
hohe, the German Versailles, where Napoleon III. was in luxurious 
captivity. He had gone out on horseback, but we saw several of his 
suite, including Edgar Ney and Acliille Murat, smoking and reading 
newspapers on the terrace. From Cassel we had intended going to 
Detmold, but finding the railway service disorganized by the war we 



headed for Holland, passing a night each at Soest and Salzbergen, 
reaching Amsterdam October 2d, 1870." 

Passing the following winter in England, but going again to 
Italy in April, Mr. and Mrs. Winthrop crossed the Simplon by- 
carriage and four, lunched (May 23) on the summit and slept 
at Brieg, going thence to Vevey, getting back to Paris " at 
last," tlie middle of June, "after a year's absence, finding the 
luggage we left at the Orient in good condition. We were 
among the earliest of the foreign colony to re-enter Paris, find- 
ing in every direction interesting traces of the Prussian siege 
and the brutal devastation of the Commune." This, Mr. 
Winthrop's last visit to Paris was of five weeks' duration. 
Leaving for England, July 20, he and Mrs. Winthrop passed 
the summer there, and in Wales. 

"Sept. 16, 1871, we sailed from Liverpool in the Cunard steamer 
' Russia,' landing in New York on the morning of the 26th, after 
an absence from America of two years and a quarter. At that time 
we fully expected to return to Europe in the course of a year or two, 
but a variety of causes led us to postpone it, — the birth of chil- 
dren, my father's dependence upon me, my father-in-law's indisposition 
to part with his daughter, etc. It was not until the spring of 1895 that 
my wife went abroad on an absence of a year and a half, and tho' 
my three children have been repeatedly in Europe, I have never set 
foot there since 1871, my health since my father's death, in 1894, hav- 
ing been very uncertain, indisposing me for distant journeys." 

At the time of his return to America in 1871, Mr. Winthrop 
was not 3'et thirtj'-seven. He and his wife thereafter lived in 
Boston, for twenty j'ears passing their summers at various 
places in houses hired for the season, — at Lenox, at Lincoln, 
at ^ledford and at Beverly. In 1894, however, they bought, 
at Manchester-by-the-Sea, an unfinished house, begun on a 
large scale by C. A. Prince, on a place comprising, with land 
bought from others, some forty acres. The completion of the 
house, the building of the outhouses and stables and laying- 
out the adjoining grounds, afforded Mr. Winthrop occupation 
and interest for several of the closing years of his life. His 
summing up was, however, characteristic. 

" The disadvantages of a New England country-place are the great 
liability to occasional drought, the mosquitoes which in some seasons 
are very trying, the great difficulty in finding a trustworthy and capa- 


ble head-gardener, and the still greater diiriculty in finding suitable 
hands to work under him. With all these drawbacks it is well worth 
doing if one can afford it, and the advantage of receiving from it in the 
winter months flowers, milk, cream and eggs, is very great. Really 
fresh eggs are the one thing money will not buy. 

" We named this summer residence ' Lantliorne Hill' after the estate 
in Connecticut which formed part of the possessions of Gov. John Win- 
throp, Jr., descending thro' five generations of his descendants and so 
often referred to in our family papers. It was never inhabited by them, 
however, and when found to be of little value for mining purposes con- 
tinued a wild, ragged hill of great extent overlooking the Sound near 
what is now Stouington. Land has of late so much increased in value 
in the neighborhood of West Manchester that I foresee that when my 
wife and I are gone the modern Lauthorue Hill will be cut up into 
building lots. 

"Since my final return from Europe towards the close of 1871,1 
have led for the most part a quiet domestic life, the one best suited to 
my mature tastes, but a great contrast to my early ones. My wife 
cared little for general society, and I gradually withdrew more and 
more from the gay world, besides losing my interest in popular amuse- 
ments. Still less did I fancy opportunities which sometimes opened for 
acquiring a certain notoriety as a speaker at public dinners, a lecturer 
on historical subjects, a reviewer of books or periodicals, or in serving 
on committees of one sort or another. My father would have had me 
more ambitious, but I am satisfied that my preference for the back- 
ground accorded best with my contentment and my health. I have felt 
flattered to find it sometimes said ' he might have been distinguished 
had he chosen to exert himself,' but I should have been stung by any 
insinuation that I had tried to make a figure in the world and failed. 

" My time, however, has by no means wholly been devoted to domes- 
tic pursuits. Aside from the assistance I constantly rendered my father 
in his numerous undertakings, I was for twenty years an active member 
of the Massachusetts Historical Society of which both my father and 
grandfather had been Presidents, but in which I preferred to hold no 
office. During this period three of its volumes of Collections were in 
great measure prepared and edited by me, while its volumes of Pro- 
ceedings contain more than 100 communications of mine on different 
subjects ; some short, others of considerable length, others privately 
reprinted in pamphlet form. They do not, however, contain a squib ^ 
of mine in 188.5, entitled ' A Few Words in Defence of an Elderly 
Lady,' being a reply to Dr. G. E. Ellis, who in an address on Chief 
Justice Sewall had gone out of his way to attack the widow of Wait 

1 A Difference of Opinion concerning tlie Reasons wliy Katlierine Winthrop 
refused to marry Chief Justice Sewall. Boston. Privately Pruited. 1885. 


Wintbrop, whom Sewall had vainly endeavoretl to marry. This pro- 
duction, on being read to tlie Society, met with such success that I 
printed it for private distribution, resisting repeated offers from pub- 
lishers. My memoir of my father,^ tho' nominally prepared for the 
Historical Society, was separately printed in a volume of 360 pages, and 
two editions of it were widely circulated by me in public libraries 
throughout this country and abroad. 

" Genealogical pursuits have also occupied me more or less, chiefly 
in relation to my own family or those immediately connected with it. 
For instance, the first volume of J. J. Muskett's ' Suffolk Manorial 
Families' was printed chiefly at my expense, and fifty copies of the 
first four parts of it were caused to be bound and distributed by me with 
the title ' Wintbrop of Groton and Allied Families.' 

" Besides the above-mentioned Memoir of my father a shorter one of 
my father-in-law, Robert M. Mason, and one of my father's cousin, 
Hon. David Sears, — all separately printed as well as included in the 
Society's Proceedings, — I wrote for the Ipswich Historical Society all 
but the local part of a ' Sketch of John Wintbrop the Younger,' print- 
ing it at my own expense with frontispiece and facsimiles. 

"The re-arrangement of the large collection of Colonial MSS. 
conventionally known as the Winthrop Papers '■' has occupied much of 
my time at different periods. A large number of these MSS. have 
been deciphered and copied by me, while valuable selections from 
them have been given by me to the State Library of Connecticut, 
Yale University Library, the Pilgrim Society, Long Island Historical 
Society, et al. 

" For many years I was one of the Trustees of the Boston Atbe- 
nteum, serving on its Library Committee, but I preferred to retire on 
account of dissatisfaction with the management of that institution and 
a wish to avoid controversy with colleagues who were my personal 
friends. For many years also I was a member of the locally famous 
'Wednesday Evening Club of 1777,' until an increasing deafness, com- 
bined with less and less inclination to go out of an evening, decided me 
to retire. 

" Without ever having been an especially robust man I enjoyed 
average health until my sixty-third year. . . . 

" The death of my father in 1894, in his 86th year, was a merciful 
release from protracted suffering, but the death of my brother John, in 

1 A Memoir of Robert C. Winthrop. Prepared for the Massachusetts His- 
torical Society by Robert C. Winthrop, Jr. Boston, 1897. 

2 Tliis exceptionally valuable collection of papers, bequeathed by Mr. Win- 
throp to his wife, with a suggestion that from her they should pass ultimately 
into the control of the Massachusetts Historical Society, were, shortly after Mr. 
Winthrop's death, given by Mrs. Winthrop to the Society. See Proceedings, 
2d ser., vol. xix. p. 307. 

1906.] MEMOIR OF ROBERT C. \\^INTIIROr, JR. 197 

the following year, at the age of only fifty-four, was a great grief to 
me, for tlio' we had few tastes in common we were very fond of one 
another and every one was fond of him. . . . The successive deaths of 
so many intimate friends of uiy early life, of both sexes, has contributed 
to render my life, in recent years, more and more that of a recluse, and 
I pass it mostly with books and manuscripts. My political opinions 
can substantially be gleaned from my Life of my father, but I am not 
as good an American as he was, nor am I fully certain that I should 
not have had Loyalist sympathies at the outbreak of the Revolution." 

The passage here referred to in the Memoir of the elder 
Robert C. Winthrop is both in thought aud expression so 
characteristic of the writer that no sketch of his life would be 
complete without it. Moreover it was evidently written as a 
species of declaration of political faith, — a parting protest 
against tendencies as the younger Robert C. had observed 
them : — 

" He held many old-fashioned views upon a variety of subjects, some 
of which were of a character to excite disgust or derision in the breast 
of any self-respecting ' advanced-thinker.' For instance, he believed 
that the best way to check crime lies in the prompt and effective pun- 
ishment of a convicted criminal, aud, though a tender-hearted man, he 
not merely approved the death-penalty, but considered flogging an 
admirable corrective to certain classes of offences. He was a total 
disbeliever in unrestricted suffrage, preferring, with his friend Francis 
Lieber, an extensive suffrage, based upon property aud education, 
within the gradual reach of all who chose strenuously to apply them- 
selves. He realized, however, that in such a matter there can be no 
step backward, and that one might as well try to lessen the number of 
flatulent demagogues in our legislative bodies, or of sensational writers 
in the press, or of notoriety-seeking preachers in the pulpit. He 
believed not only in a well-organized militia, but in a standing army 
large enough to secure the vigorous enforcement of the laws. In the 
abstract, he preferred the Republioan form of government to any other, 
but the toppling over of a monarchy did not necessarily inspire him 
with unmixed exhilaration ; he sometimes doubted whether anything 
would be gained by the exchange. To him the name mattered little, 
the essentials being, in his judgment, an honest and efficient municipal 
system affording clean streets, good roads, aud adequate protection to 
life and property; a trained civil, diplomatic, and consular service, safe 
from the ravening greed of party-hacks and oflice-seekers ; an intelli- 
gent and systematic effort to ameliorate the condition of the poorer 
classes; and a degree of personal liberty not allowed to degenerate 


into license. He was not sanguine enough to expect all this anywhere 
in absolute perfection, but to try to approximate it in different parts 
of the world seemed to him wiser and more practical than to thrill with 
what is vaf^uely termed ' the enthusiasm of humanity,' or to ' prate,' as 
John Quiucy Adams called it, ' about the Rights of Man.' Next to au 
exalted opinion of himself, the most sustaining reflection to many a 
man is the firm belief which often accompanies it, not only that every- 
thing is going on for the best in the best of all possible worlds, but 
that his own country is by all odds the most favored spot in the uni- 
verse and that its institutions should be unreservedly envied and imi- 
tated by other nations. If patriotism is to be gauged by any such 
spread-eagle standard, no amount of special pleading could disguise that 
Mr. Witithrop's was below par. Ardently as he loved his country, he 
was far from considering it faultless. Preferring it to any other, he 
thought it not improbable that if he had been born and bred in some 
other, he might have liked it equally well. He had a very high opin- 
ion of the average ability of American public men of all parties, and a 
still higher opinion of the capacity and ingenuity of that composite 
race, the American people ; but he sometimes wished they would not 
be so boastful, so credulous, so sensitive to the slightest foreign criti- 
cism, and so absorbingly agog about the doings — or alleged misdoings 

— of persons of title on the other side of the Atlantic." 

Mr. Winthrop was elected a member of the Massachusetts 
Historical Society in May, 1879 ; and it is speaking within 
bounds to say that to no person in its histor}^ has an election 
into our Society meant so much. He needed an impetus to 
exertion — an incitement and an interest. All these the 
Society furnished him. A man of distinct ability, with very 
considerable powers of application of a peculiar and uncertain 
character, with a striking vivacity of speech and expression, 
his sense of family pride was as pronounced as was his ten- 
dency to the indulgence of an inclination to ease ; but in our 
Society he felt a species of hereditary pride and, for it, even a 
sort of responsibility. Even this, however, lost its hold ; and, 
as time went on, he more and more inclined to seclusion. 
As he grew older, it was curious to observe him in his familiar 
haunts. Becoming a member of the Somerset Club immedi- 
ately after graduation, while he was yet in middle life he was 
there looked upon by the younger members as of an earlier 
generation. He seemed apart. Always easy and courteous, 

— possessing in a marked degree the Winthrop manner, — as 
his old friends one by one died off, their places, for him, 


remained unfilled. Always temperate, as he ate at his soli- 
tary table he would habitiuilly have before him a magazine or 
newspaper; but if a friend of his youth chanced to come in, 
and, dropping into the chair opposite, address him before the 
awestruck juniors by the familiar abbreviation of name, his 
face would at once light up as the old geniality returned. As 
a rule, however, the younger generation and its prattle did not 
interest him; and even the theatre, or at any rate the Ameri- 
can theatre in its Boston stage of development, had ceased to 
amuse. Yet his letters were sprightly and pleasant to the 
end ; caustic and full of observation. He seemed also to take 
pleasure in writing them. 

A constant reader, he never lost his appreciation of liveli- 
ness and humor in literature : but the passing away of his 
early intimates affected him deeply. At last, of those men- 
tioned iu his notes of travel, and whose photographs hung on 
the walls of that room in the Walnut St. house which was 
the favorite retreat of his later years, one only survived, — 
Charles Tliorndike, his classmate and lifelong friend. Mr. 
Winthrop's existence thus became more and more solitary and 
self-centred. He yielded to the inclination. For nearly a 
score of years the Historical Society supplied him with an 
interest and his interest gave no indication of abatement up 
to our removal from the Tremont Street building and its 
immediate proximity to the grave of Governor John Winthrop 
to our present Fenway habitation. That was in 1899. In 
the transfer Mr. Winthrop acquiesced. He saw that the 
time for it had come ; but unfortunately, so far as the Society 
was concerned, he seemed to have concluded that his time 
had come also. Though after our removal an occasional 
visitor at the building, he ceased to take part in our meet- 
ings. His presence was greatly missed. For years he had 
not only communicated frequent papers, but he had been 
prominent in our discussions; and, as was truly remarked 
here at the meeting following his death, it was curious to 
see how, when he took the floor, the Society, however somno- 
lently inclined before, invariably became animated and ex- 
pectajit. Any atmosphere of indifference or tedium at once 
was dispelled. He also for many years, especially during the 
presidency of Dr. Ellis, interested himself greatly in the 
Society's affairs and influenced its policy, usually for the better. 


His great mistake was in not altogether identifying himself 
with it ; for his so doing would certainly have increased his own 
happiness, added largely to his usefulness, and probably have 
prolonged his life. It would also have benefited the Society. 
On the death of Dr. Ellis (1894) Mr. Winthrop ought to 
have succeeded to the chair his grandfather and father had 
occupied. That he should consent so to do was urged upon 
him, not least by the writer of this sketch. He wholly de- 
clined to consider the proposition ; and, when the younger 
Robert C. Winthrop had made up his mind on any subject, 
especially one concerning himself, he was distinctly the re- 
verse of amenable to suggestions of change. But had he in 
this case been willing to accept the chair which would gladly 
have been proffered him, and then occupied himself actively 
in re-editing his first Massachusetts ancestor's journal, and 
publishing the family papers, he would have rendered his 
later years far happier while making a notable contribution 
to history. He had the ability ; he had the culture ; he had 
the material, and the means to use it ; unfortunately he 
lacked both ambition and incentive. 

Dying at his house in Boston on Monday, June 5, 1905, Mr. 
"Winthrop was buried the succeeding Friday from the St. 
John's Memorial Chapel of the Episcopal Theological School 
at Cambridge, erected by his father-in-law, Robert M. Mason, 
in memory of his wife and children. It was also character- 
istic of Mr. Winthrop that he gave detailed directions as to 
the exercises on the occasion, specifying as a hymn the English 
rendering of the Dies tree, dies ilia, — " Oh ! day of wrath, 
oh! dreadful day." He left a widow and three children, one 
son and two daughters: but, for the first time since the organ- 
ization of this Society on the 24th of January, 1791, the name 
of Winthrop ceased to appear on its roll. In the case of no 
other family had membership been both original and unbroken. 



013 789 015 A »